Public Choice

, Volume 86, Issue 1–2, pp 137–156

Random errors, dirty information, and politics

  • Reiner Eichenberger
  • Angel Serna


Rational voters' assessments of candidates and policy proposals are unbiased, but affected by random errors. "Clean" information decreases these errors, while "dirty" information increases them. In politics, most voting procedures weigh random individual errors asymmetrically. Thus, such errors do not counterbalance one another in the aggregate. They systematically affect politics. This illuminates the roles of political propaganda and interest groups. It helps to explain various puzzles in Public Choice, e.g., the frequent use of inefficient policy instruments. Institutional conditions are identified that shape the aggregate impact of individual errors and the politicians' incentives to produce dirty information.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Reiner Eichenberger
    • 1
  • Angel Serna
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Empirical Economic ResearchUniversity of ZürichZürichSwitzerland

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