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Competing for Attention: Lobbying Time‐Constrained Politicians

Journal of Public Economic Theory

Published online on


We develop a model of lobbying in which a time and resource constrained policymaker first chooses which policy proposals to learn about, before choosing which to implement. The policymaker reviews the proposals of the interest groups who provide the highest contributions. We study how policy outcomes and contributions depend on policymaker constraints and the design of the “Contest for Attention.” Among other results, awarding attention to the highest contributors generally guarantees the first best policy outcome. It can also lead to the highest possible contributions, suggesting that a policymaker may not need to sacrifice policy in order to maximize contributions. Our results also give insight into other settings where agents compete for a decision maker's attention.