Modeling the Influence of Public's Memory on the Corruption-Popularity Dilemma in Politics

Bruno Buonomo, Alberto d'Onofrio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We consider the problem of a rational politician who gains benefit from both being popular and corrupt. In 1994, Feichtinger and Wirl studied this trade-off by means of an infinite-horizon optimal control approach. We reconsider the problem over a finite time horizon, to model the dilemma of a politician who stays in office for a limited period of time and wishes to be reelected. We also include explicitly the possibility that awareness of politician's conduct to the general population is delayed and the effect of such delay on the politician's optimal behavior is analyzed. We show the outcomes under several different scenarios, with particular reference to the role of the politician's communication skills. One general conclusion is that the synergy of a good public's memory and immediate knowledge of corruption may often help the people to protect themselves from political corruption. Moreover, this synergy may greatly enhance the popularity of a politician with poor communication skills, provided that he/she aims at maximizing benefit from popularity during his/her mandate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)554-575
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Optimization Theory and Applications
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2013


  • Corruption
  • Delay
  • Optimal control
  • Politics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Mathematics
  • Control and Optimization
  • Management Science and Operations Research


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