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Overview

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Instructor: Martin J. Osborne

This course covers formal theories of political behavior, a subject known to economists as "political economy". It discusses both the foundational models in the field and topics of current research. It assumes a knowledge of microeconomic theory and game theory at the level of ECO2020 and ECO2030.

I tentatively plan to cover the following topics.

  • Collective choice when preferences are known
  • Collective choice when preferences are private information: strategic voting, group-based voting, ethical voting
  • Voting under asymmetric information
  • Electoral competition
  • The role of money: campaign finance
  • Redistributive politics
  • Legislative bargaining
  • Lobbying
  • Political parties
  • Regime change
I will provide fairly self-contained slides and post reading lists on the schedule page as the course progresses.

In addition, the following books may be useful.

  • Mueller, Dennis, Public choice III, Cambridge University Press, 2003. A monumental book covering a huge range of material, with a lot of excellent discussion.
  • Banks, Jeffrey S. and David Austen-Smith, Positive political theory I, University of Michigan Press, 1999, and Positive political theory II, University of Michigan Press, 2005. The first volume focuses on the aggregation of known preference relations and the second volume studies strategic behavior in collective choice and electoral competition. The style is very detailed and precise.
  • Gehlbach, Scott, Formal models of domestic politics, Cambridge University Press, 2013. Discusses simple versions of models relevant to many of the topics I cover.
  • Persson, Torsten and Guido Tabellini, Political economics, MIT Press, 2000. Differs from this course in emphasizing economic problems, including macroeconomic ones.