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American Economic Review: Vol. 103 No. 4 (June 2013)

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Preferences and Incentives of Appointed and Elected Public Officials: Evidence from State Trial Court Judges

Article Citation

Lim, Claire S H. 2013. "Preferences and Incentives of Appointed and Elected Public Officials: Evidence from State Trial Court Judges." American Economic Review, 103(4): 1360-97.

DOI: 10.1257/aer.103.4.1360

Abstract

We study how two selection systems for public officials, appointment and election, affect policy outcomes, focusing on state court judges and their criminal sentencing decisions. First, under appointment, policy congruence with voter preferences is attained through selecting judges with homogeneous preferences. In contrast, under election, judges face strong reelection incentives, while selection on preferences is weak. Second, the effectiveness of election in attaining policy congruence critically depends on payoffs from the job, which implies that the effectiveness of election may vary substantially across public offices. Third, reelection incentives may discourage judges with significant human capital from holding office.

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Online Appendix (280.64 KB) | Download Data Set (224.31 KB)

Authors

Lim, Claire S. H. (Cornell U)

JEL Classifications

D72: Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
K41: Litigation Process


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