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4.3. Democracy and autocracy compared

Course video 21 of 34

This lecture begins with an analysis of how public economic policies differ from each other in democracies and autocracies. We next turn to politics of public economics in democracies and begin with the classical result about non-existence of a universal rule of democratic aggregation of preferences (Arrow's impossibility theorem). Then introduce so-called single-peaked preferences and discuss the role of median voter in collective decision making. Another problem occurs in polarized societies where even economically optimal democratic choice leaves people far to the left and/or far to the right from the median quite unhappy with a majority will. Possible solutions include restricting democratic procedures to smaller and hopefully more homogenous groups and charging user fees for a public good. We discuss the costs and benefits of these two approaches.

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