The Provision of Public Goods Under Alternative Electoral Incentives

We discuss a fundamental trade-off in the political process that can lead to inefficient provision of public goods: politicians may not offer to provide socially desirable public goods because the benefits of the public good cannot be targeted to voters as easily as pork barrel spending. We study how this inefficiency is affected by alternative ways of conducting elections. We first compare a winner-take-all system with a proportional system. We then contrast two different ways of electing politicians to nationwide offices: one is majority rule, the other is the system used in U.S. presidential elections: the electoral college.

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