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.



Scientific Papers

  • Levine, D. K. and S. Modica [2018]: "Survival of the Weakest: Why the West Rules," EUI

     Levine, D. K., A. Mattozzi and S. Modica [2018]: "Voter Turnout with Peer Punishment" EUI

    Levine, D. K., A. Mattozzi and S. Modica [2018]: "Trade Associations: Why Not Cartels?" EUI

     Dutta, R., D. K. Levine and S. Modica [2018]: "Peer Monitoring, Ostracism and the Internalization of Social Norms," EUI

    Dutta, R., D. K. Levine and S. Modica [2017]: "Damned if You Do and Damned if You Don't: Two Masters," Journal of Economic Theory, forthcoming

    Dutta, R., D. K. Levine and S. Modica [2017]: "Collusion Constrained Equilibrium," Theoretical Economics, 13: 307–340.

    Levine, D. K. and A. Mattozzi [2017]: "Voter Turnout with Peer Punishment (working paper version)," EUI.

    Levine, D. K. and S. Modica [2017]: "Size, Fungibility, and the Strength of Lobbying Organizations," European Journal of Political Economy, 49: 71-83.

    Mattozzi, A. and E. Snowberg [2017]: "The Right Type of Legislator: a Theory of Taxation and Representation," EUI.

    Mattozzi, A. and M. Nakaguma [2017]: "Public versus Secret Voting in Committees," EUI.

    Mattozzi, A. and M. Nakaguma [2017]: "Public versus Secret Voting in Committees: Appendix," EUI.

    Levine, D. K. and S. Modica [2016]: "An Evolutionary Model of Intervention and Peace," Economic Policy, forthcoming.

    Block, J. I., D. Fudenberg and D. K. Levine [2016]: "Learning Dynamics Based on Social Comparisons," Theoretical Economics, forthcoming.

    Levine, D. K. and S. Modica [2016]: "Peer Discipline and Incentives Within Groups," Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization 123: 19-30.

    Levine, D. K. and S. Modica [2016]: "Dynamics in Stochastic Evolutionary Models," Theoretical Economics 1: 89-131.

    Mattozzi, A. and A. Merlo [2015]: "Mediocracy," Journal of Public Economics.

    Iaryczower, M. and A. Mattozzi [2013]: "On the Nature of Competition in Alternative Electoral Systems," Journal of Politics.

    Levine, D. K. and S. Modica [2013]: "Anti-Malthus: Conflict and the Evolution of Societies," Research in Economics 67: 289-306.

    Iaryczower, M. and A. Mattozzi [2012]: "The Pro-Competitive Effect of Campaign Limits in Non-Majoritarian Elections," Economic Theory.

    Galeotti, A. and A. Mattozzi [2011]: "Personal Influence:  Social Context and Political Competition," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics.

    Herrera, H. and A. Mattozzi [2010]: "Quorum and Turnout in Referenda," Journal of the European Economic Association.

    Galasso, V. M. Landi, A. Mattozzi and A. Merlo [2010]: "The Labor Market of Italian Politicians," in The Ruling Class: Management and Politics in Modern Italy, Oxford University Press (Italian version Classe Dirigente: L'Intreccio tra Business e Politica, Egea).

    Barbieri, S. and A. Mattozzi [2009]: "Membership in Citizen Groups," Games and Economic Behavior.

    Hirshleifer, J., M. Boldrin and D. K. Levine [2009]: "The Slippery Slope of Concession," Economic Inquiry 47: 197-205

    Herrera, H., D. K. Levine and C. Martinelli [2008]: "Policy Platforms, Campaign Spending and Voter Participation," Journal of Public Economics 92: 501-513

    Iaryczower, M. and A. Mattozzi [2008]: "Many Enemies, Much Honor? On the Competitiveness of Elections in Proportional Representation Systems" in The Political Economy of Democracy, BBVA.

    Kiewet, R. and A. Mattozzi [2008]: "Voter Rationality and Democratic Government," Critical Review.

    Mattozzi, A. and A. Merlo [2007]: "Political Careers or Career Politicians?" Journal of Public Economics.

    Mattozzi, A. and A. Merlo [2007]: "The Transparency of Politics and the Quality of Politicians," American Economic Review Papers and Proceedings.

    Levine, D. K. and T. R. Palfrey [2007]: "The Paradox of Voter Participation: A Laboratory Study," American Political Science Review 101: 143-158