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A Political Economy Model of the Ganges Pollution Cleanup Problem

Batabyal, Amitrajeet and Beladi, Hamid (2020): A Political Economy Model of the Ganges Pollution Cleanup Problem.

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We study pollution cleanup in the Ganges in Varanasi, India. Voters elect politicians and elected politicians decide how much pollution to clean up. Between the two time periods, there is an election. Politicians are sincere or insincere. The marginal cost of public funds ζ measures how efficiently elected politicians transform tax receipts into pollution cleanup. Voters have identical per period utility functions. We ascertain the equilibrium outcome and per period voter welfare. Second, we show that an increase in ζ reduces the equilibrium pollution cleanup and voter welfare. Third, an insincere politician can delay the revelation of his insincerity. We show that a critical value of ζ,ζ^*, exists such that the insincere incumbent separates and loses the election if and only if ζ>ζ^* and that he pools and is re-elected otherwise. Finally, we note that an increase in ζ can raise voter welfare when politicians are more likely to be insincere.

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