Elliott Ash

ETH Zurich
IFW E47.1
Zurich 8044

Institutional Affiliation: ETH Zurich

NBER Working Papers and Publications

March 2016Selection and Incentive Effects of Elections: Evidence from State Supreme Courts
with W. Bentley MacLeod: w22071
Using data on state supreme court judges for the years 1947 through 1994, we find that judges selected by nonpartisan elections and judges selected by technocratic merit commissions produce higher-quality work than judges selected by partisan elections. Election-year pressure reduces work output, but only partisan elections reduce work quality. Moving from nonpartisan elections to uncontested elections increases work quality for incumbent judges, while there is no effect on incumbent judge performance when moving from partisan to nonpartisan elections, or when moving from partisan to uncontested elections, consistent with the hypothesis that non-partisan judges have a greater intrinsic value for quality.
July 2015Elections and Divisiveness: Theory and Evidence
with Massimo Morelli, Richard Van Weelden: w21422
This paper analyzes the effort allocation choices of incumbent politicians when voters are uncertain about politician preferences. There is a pervasive incentive to "posture" by over-providing effort to pursue divisive policies, even if all voters would strictly prefer to have a consensus policy implemented. As such, the desire of politicians to convince voters that their preferences are aligned with the majority of the electorate can lead them to choose strictly pareto dominated effort allocations. Transparency over the politicians' effort choices can re-enforce the distortions, and for some parameters can be bad both for incentivizing politicians to focus on socially efficient tasks and for allowing voters to select congruent politicians. We take our theoretical results to the data wi...

Published: Elliott Ash & Massimo Morelli & Richard Van Weelden, 2017. "Elections and Divisiveness: Theory and Evidence," The Journal of Politics, vol 79(4), pages 1268-1285.

November 2014Intrinsic Motivation in Public Service: Theory and Evidence from State Supreme Courts
with W. Bentley MacLeod: w20664
This paper provides a theoretical and empirical analysis of the intrinsic preferences of state appellate court judges. We construct a panel data set using published decisions from state supreme court cases merged with institutional and biographical information on all (1,636) state supreme court judges for the 50 states of the United States from 1947 to 1994. We estimate the effects of changes in judge employment conditions on a number of measures of judicial performance. The results are consistent with the hypothesis that judges are intrinsically motivated to provide high-quality decisions, and that at the margin they prefer quality over quantity. When judges face less time pressure, they write more well-researched opinions that are cited more often by later judges. When judges are up for ...

Published: Elliott Ash & W. Bentley MacLeod, 2015. "Intrinsic Motivation in Public Service: Theory and Evidence from State Supreme Courts," The Journal of Law and Economics, vol 58(4), pages 863-913.

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