- American Economic Journal: Microeconomics (Forthcoming)
This paper explores the origins of policy complexity. It studies a model where policy is difficult to undo because policy elements are entangled with each other. Policy complexity may accumulate as successive policymakers layer new rules upon existing policy. Complexity emerges and persists in balanced democratic polities, when policymakers are ideologically extreme, and when legislative frictions impede policymaking. Complexity begets complexity: simple policies remain simple, whereas complex policies grow more complex. Patience is not always a virtue: farsighted policymakers may engage in obstructionism, deliberately introducing complex policies to hinder future opponents.
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