perilous populism

Social Mechanisms and Political Economy

Populism is the possibly fatal reaction to the disease of corruption that undermines democracy. To cure a disease with minimal harm to the patient it is essential to understand how it works. This ongoing project is our effort to understand democracy and lobbying and what it means for our economic future. Our goal is to shed light on why elections are won by large groups yet are corrupted by the lobbying of smaller special interests - and what should be done about it. We study voter turnout, the efficacy of interest groups and the rise of populism. Our view is that the sociological elements of of peer pressure and social networks are crucial for understanding the behavior of the political groups that vote and lobby. We give a unified perspective that draws on existing and ongoing theoretical, empirical, and experimental research - our own and that of other economists and political scientists. In doing so we utilize modern economic and game theoretic tools, especially incentive constraints, auction theory, learning theory, and stochastic evolution.

Read our introductory essays, view our slides from presentations, or read our scientific papers, published, forthcoming and working papers.