Individual accountability, collective decision-making

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An influential theoretical literature studies a single executive's electoral incentives to knowingly pursue bad policies because they are popular. I develop a model to study pandering in a legislative setting where multiple politicians, each accountable to their own constituency, are responsible for policymaking. Individual politicians receive private information about the best policy for achieving outcomes that citizens value. Politicians then privately deliberate to select a policy. Under certain conditions, politi- cians face electoral incentives to misrepresent their private evidence during deliberation in order to convince their colleagues to adopt a popular policy. I find that these perverse incentives become weaker as the number of politicians involved in policymaking increases. In larger groups, politicians share more responsibility for their policy choices. Individual politicians therefore have less to gain electorally from pandering. This result suggests that in addition to giving politicians more information about which policies are in citizens' best interest, larger groups provide stronger incentives for politicians to use this information when policymaking is non-transparent.

Pandering, Legislatures, Collective decision-making, Career concerns