- Copyright Page
- Rational Choice and Politics: An Introduction to the Research Program and Methodology of Public Choice
- Choosing among Governments
- Public Choice: Early Contributions
- From Paired Comparisons and Cycles to Arrow’s Theorem
- Institution-Induced Stability
- Voting Power
- Aggregation of Information by Binary Voting Rules
- Political Choices in One Dimension: Theory
- Political Choices in One Dimension: Applications
- Spatial Voting Models of Party Competition in Two Dimensions
- Spatial Social Choice
- Economic Voting
- Valence Politics
- The Study of Strategic Voting
- Turnout: Why Do Voters Vote?
- Expressive Voting
- Altruism and Political Participation
- Social Embeddedness and Rational Turnout
- Information Cues and Rational Ignorance
- Campaign Finance
- Primaries, Conventions, and Other Methods for Nominating Candidates: How Do They Matter?
- Logrolling and Coalitions
- Collective Action
- Rent Seeking: The Social Cost of Contestable Benefits
- The Structure of Contests and the Extent of Dissipation
- The Political Economy of Rent Creation and Rent Extraction
- Empirical Evidence on Rent-Seeking Costs
- “The Bureaucracy” as an Interest Group
- Interest Groups and Regulatory Capture
- The Political Economy of Trust
- Contested Political Persuasion
- Stochastic Process Models of Preference Change
- Leadership as Persuasion
- Fairness Concepts
- Social Contract versus Invisible Hand: Agreeing to Solve Social Dilemmas
- Utilitarianism as a Criterion for State Action
- Public Choice and Happiness
- Kantianism and Political Institutions
- Public Choice and Libertarianism
- Public Choice and Social Democracy
- Supreme Values, Totalitarianism, and Terrorism
- Fair Division in Dispute Resolution
- Fair Division in Allocating Cabinet Ministries
Abstract and Keywords
Contestable benefits or rents are of primary importance for the study of public finance and public policy. Rents are assigned through decisions about budgetary spending and taxation. Public policy creates and assigns rents through decisions about regulation of competition, international trade, the environment, foreign aid, and more. Contestable rents are also found outside of government, for example in academia, or when contests take place for mates. There is a social loss when resources and initiative used in contesting rents could have been used productively. Lack of data and denial by successful rent seekers that rent seeking took place are obstacles to direct measurement of social loss. Contest models are therefore used to infer magnitudes of social loss. The models show conditions under which the observable value of a rent can be used to approximate the generally unobservable value of resources used in contesting the rent. The generic contest model describes social losses when individuals seek a personal benefit. Social losses are diminished when, as is characteristic of democracies, groups contest collective benefits. Views on the importance of rent seeking can be influenced by ideology. Government as seeking to maximize social welfare is inconsistent with political creation of contestable rents that are assigned for privileged benefit.
Arye L. Hillman is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Economics at Bar-Ilan University.
Ngo Van Long is Professor in the Department of Economics at McGill University.
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