Felix Bierbrauer Is Political Competition Good for Social Welfare?

Felix Bierbrauer is a Guest Researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods and is Chair of the Centre for Macroeconomic Research and Public Economics. Between 2006 and 2007, Bierbrauer taught as a Visiting Scholar at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Department of Economics. Bierbrauer’s main research revolves around economic theory, with a specific interest in the interplay between political competition and social welfare. For his paper on ‘Political Competition and Mirrleesian Income Taxation’, Bierbrauer received the 2012 Young Economist Award from the International Institute of Public Finance.

Area of Research

Economic Theory, Political Economy, Public Economics

Felix Bierbrauer. "Tax Incidence for Fragile Financial Markets." Journal of Public Economics 120 (2014): 107-125.  
Felix Bierbrauer. "Optimal Tax and Expenditure Policy with Aggregate Uncertainty." American Economic Journal: Microeconomics 6 (2014): 205-257.  
Felix Bierbrauer, Craig Brett and John A. Weymark. "Strategic Nonlinear Income Tax Competition with Perfect Labor Mobility." Games and Economic Behavior 82 (2013): 292-311.  
Felix Bierbrauer. "On the Optimality of Optimal Income Taxation." Journal of Economic Theory 146 (2011): 2105-2116.  
Felix Bierbrauer. "Incomplete Contracts and Excludable Public Goods." Journal of Public Economics 95 (2011): 553-569.  

since 2011

Full Professor

University of Cologne (Universität zu Köln) (more details)

Chair for Public Economics and Center for Macroeconomic Research

since 2011

Research Affiliate

Max Planck Society

Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods


Visiting Professor

University of Mannheim (Universität Mannheim)

Public Economics


Senior Research Fellow

Max Planck Society

Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods


Visiting Scholar

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Department of Economics


Research Assistant

Max Planck Society

Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods


Research and Teaching Assistant for Professor Martin Hellwig

University of Mannheim (Universität Mannheim)


PhD in Economics

University of Mannheim (Universität Mannheim)

Thesis "Essays on Public Goods Provision and Income Taxation"


Diploma in Economics

University of Mannheim (Universität Mannheim)

- Editorial Board, European Journal of Political Economy (since 2010)


- Certificate of Excellence in Reviewing, Journal of Public Economics (2013)

- IIPF Young Economists Awards 2012 for the Paper on Political Competition and Mirrleesian Income Taxation (2012)

- Dissertation Awarded with Otto Hahn Medaille of the Max Planck Society (2007)

- Diploma Thesis Awarded with Prize of Karin Islinger Foundation, University of Mannheim (2003)


- CESifo Research Network Fellow (since 2009)

- Member of the Committee on Public Finance (Verein für Sozialpolitik) (since 2012)

© Thomas Josek

University of Cologne (Universität zu Köln)

Founded in 1388, the University of Cologne (UoC) is the second oldest German university. Its heritage goes hand in hand with a thoroughly modern outlook. The UoC is one of the leading German research universities with an increasing international reach. In 2012 the University won substantial funding in the German Excellence Initiative and is now one of eleven German Excellence Universities. The UoC has a culture which supports individual research as well as medium and large scale collaborative projects. Our flexible approach allows us to reward individual excellence, develop promising fields, build up critical mass and embrace emerging new fields. Research is conducted in our six faculties and in a number of cross-faculty research centers. We are firmly committed to the advancement of fundamental research and have particular strengths in our six competence areas: Aging and demographic change, Social and economic behavior, Quantitative modeling of complex systems, Cultures and societies in transition, Social inequalities and intercultural education and Plant sciences. (Source: University of Cologne)


Public Economics and Center for Macroeconomic Research

"The Center for Macroeconomic Research (CMR) is part of the economics department at the Faculty of Economics, Business and Social Sciences of the University of Cologne. The center is dedicated to research and teaching in the fields of Macroeconomics, Public Economics and Empirical Economics." (Source)


The model presented in this video combines a game theoretic approach with mechanism design to examine the influence of competition on welfare maximization by politicians. It is shown that in “pure” competition between two politicians only the allocation of favors to the electorate helps winning elections, while welfare-maximizing tools of redistribution do not improve a politician’s vote-share. As FELIX BIERBRAUER points out, one might follow that when trying to create welfare-maximizing outcomes, politics fail the same way markets do; and if the goal is to have efficient outcomes, political competition is as good or bad as a market.

LT Video Publication DOI: https://doi.org/10.21036/LTPUB10051

Efficiency, Welfare, and Political Competition

  • Felix Bierbrauer and Pierre Boyer
  • Quarterly Journal of Economics
Felix Bierbrauer and Pierre Boyer. "Efficiency, Welfare, and Political Competition." Quarterly Journal of Economics (in press)

Efficiency, Welfare, and Political Competition

  • Felix Bierbrauer; Pierre Boyer
  • Published in 2015


Felix Bierbrauer and Pierre Boyer. "Efficiency, Welfare, and Political Competition." (2015).