The Elgar Companion to Public Choice
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The Elgar Companion to Public Choice

Edited by William F. Shughart II and Laura Razzolini

This authoritative and encyclopaedic reference work provides a thorough account of the public choice approach to economics and politics. The Companion breaks new ground by joining together the most important issues in the field in a single comprehensive volume. It contains state-of-the-art discussions of both old and contemporary problems, including new work by the founding fathers as well as contributions by a new generation of younger scholars.  
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Chapter 15: Ideology

Paul H. Rubin


Paul H. Rubin 1 Introduction Public choice scholars have addressed two major questions related to the influence of ideology on political behavior. One is essentially an existence question: is there an influence? The second concerns the role of the ideology of the elected representative himself versus the role of constituent ideology. This has been addressed as a form of ‘shirking’: do elected representatives evade responsibility by voting their own ideological preferences instead of the interests of their constituents? We now have answers to these questions. First, ideology does matter. Second, politicians do not shirk; rather, elected representatives follow their constituents’ interests rather faithfully. However, in the process of answering these questions, the analysis of ideology has been markedly advanced and its empirical relevance has been extensively explored. This analysis shows that ideology may be a fundamental building block of political behavior. I discuss each of these issues: existence, shirking, and current and new problems related to ideology. If the question of the importance of ideology were raised today, it is unlikely that there would be much of a debate. Important political controversies seem to deal with matters, such as abortion and homosexual rights, which are far removed from economic interest as normally understood. Often the perception of an official’s ‘liberalism’ or ‘conservatism’ is independent of his views on economic issues, and determined solely by his position on issues such as abortion. Moreover, positions on social and economic issues seem to be melded together: it is difficult...

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