“The Stabilizing Effects of Disagreeing on Everything”
My first area of research is candidate differentiation on the basis of what positions may be taken. Since candidates come into political competition with party affiliations that restrain what positions they may hold, they can only promise from a subset of the overall policy space. This kind of restriction helps to reverse some of the classic “instability” results, allowing for equilibrium existence even when there is no total median or symmetry. It also delivers interesting comparative statics. For example, when voters become more extreme in their opinions, it is actually up to the candidate to choose whether to take advantage of this change- if their old position allowed them to win, then they can still win with that position.
“Inefficiency Even Under Full Transparency” (Job Market Paper)
Draft in progress.
If an incumbent politician did not have any private information, and all of his or her actions were observable, would that necessarily imply that they act efficiently, taking a risky action only when it is appropriate? I find that when the decision maker is concerned about his or her reputation relative to others, the answer is generically no- for decision makers with a high reputation, for whom enacting policy has positive expected value, there is little to gain in terms of further reputation, as they are already at a high percentile of the distribution, and a lot to lose if things don’t pan out. By contrast, a decision maker with a low initial reputation has little to lose and a lot to gain, causing them to implement the policy despite its negative expected value. I then show that a private information setting may actually deliver superior outcomes. High types have an incentive to do policy to prove that they have a high signal, and low types have an incentive not to do policy to attempt to hide their low signal.
“Candidate competition when preferences are endogenous”
Persuasion and debate play important roles in politics. Aside from a statement of issue positions, a campaign is an effort to convince voters that a given set of policies is a good idea, to get the attention of disillusioned voters, and to cast doubt on the other candidate’s ideas. A candidate’s position and their arguments for it may bring me to their side, or they may push me away. Therefore, persuasion should mean that voter preferences should be endogenous to the positions taken by candidates. I hope to investigate the effect of persuasion on divergence.