Companion to the Political Economy of Rent Seeking
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Companion to the Political Economy of Rent Seeking

Edited by Roger D. Congleton and Arye L. Hillman

The quest for benefit from existing wealth or by seeking privileged benefit through influence over policy is known as rent seeking. Much rent seeking activity involves government and political decisions and is therefore in the domain of political economy, although it can also take place in personal relations and within firms and bureaucracies. Rent seeking, which involves the unproductive use of resources, is however primarily associated with policies that create rents as well as rent extraction or political benefit for the creators of rents. The contributions in this outstanding volume provide an accompaniment or “companion” to the literature on rent seeking and the related political economy of rent creation and extraction. The chapters, written by leading scholars in the field, demonstrate the centrality of rent-related incentives to the study of economics, politics, culture, public administration and history.
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Chapter 8: Contest effort

Yosef Mealem and Shmuel Nitzan


This chapter compares effort with contest-success functions of the Tullock logit-lottery type and the all-pay auction. We describe the circumstances in which combinations of the parameters in the general contest give rise to greater effort. Our presentation encompasses in principle two types of contests. In rent-seeking contests, the social objective is to minimize effort because effort is used unproductively. In the contest-design literature, the objective of the designer of the contest can be to maximize effort because effort is privately beneficial to the contest designer, as when ‘effort’ takes the form of a monetary bribe. The bribes then become rents to be contested.

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