New Economics Papers
on Collective Decision-Making
Issue of 2009‒12‒19
nine papers chosen by

  1. Bias at the Ballot Box? Testing Whether Candidates' Gender Affects Their Vote By Amy King; Andrew Leigh
  2. Does Terrorism Work? By Gould, Eric D.; Klor, Esteban F.
  3. The Monopoly of Violence: Evidence from Colombia By Daron Acemoglu; James A. Robinson; Rafael Santos
  4. Redistributive Taxation, Public Expenditure, and Size of Governent By Sanghamitra Bandyopadhyay; Joan Esteban
  5. How Would your Kids Vote if I Open my Doors? Evidence from Venezuela By Rodriguez, Francisco; Wagner, Rodrigo
  6. Democratisation via elections in an African 'narco state'? The case of Guinea-Bissau By Kohnert, Dirk
  7. Constructive Decision Theory By Blume, Lawrence; Easley, David; Halpern, Joseph Y.
  8. Political Economy of Director's Law: How Sincere Voters Decide on Cash and In-kind Redistribution in a Costly Political Framework By Francesco Scervini
  9. General aggregation problems and social structure: A model-theoretic generalisation of the Kirman-Sondermann correspondence By Frederik Herzberg; Daniel Eckert

  1. By: Amy King; Andrew Leigh
    Abstract: Using data from all elections to the Australian House of Representatives between 1903 and 2004, we examine the relationship between candidates’ gender and their share of the vote. We find that the vote share of female candidates is 0.6 percentage points smaller than that of male candidates (for major parties, the gap widens to 1½ percentage points), but find little evidence that the party preselection system is responsible for the voting bias against women. Over time, the gap between male and female candidates has shrunk considerably as a result of changes in social norms (as proxied by the gender pay gap and attitudinal data) and the share of female candidates running nationwide. We find little evidence that party-based affirmative action policies have reduced the gender penalty against female candidates.
    Keywords: economics of gender, elections, voting behaviour
    JEL: D72 J16
    Date: 2009–11
  2. By: Gould, Eric D.; Klor, Esteban F.
    Abstract: This paper examines whether terrorism is an effective tool to achieve political goals. By exploiting variation in terror attacks over time and across locations in Israel from 1988 to 2006, we show that local terror attacks cause Israelis to be: (i) more willing to grant territorial concessions to the Palestinians; (ii) more willing to accept a Palestinian state; (iii) and less likely to identify oneself as being right-wing. These effects are especially pronounced within demographic groups that are traditionally right-wing in their political views. However, terror attacks beyond a certain threshold are less effective, and may reach levels which cause Israelis to adopt a less-accommodating position. In addition, we show that terror induces Israelis to vote increasingly for right-wing parties, as the right-wing parties move to the left in response to terror. Hence, terrorism appears to be an effective strategy in terms of shifting the entire Israeli political landscape to the left. These findings may shed light on the causes underlying the spread of global terrorism in the last few decades.
    Keywords: Political Views; Terrorism
    JEL: D72 D74
    Date: 2009–12
  3. By: Daron Acemoglu; James A. Robinson; Rafael Santos
    Abstract: Many states in Latin America, Africa and Asia lack the monopoly of violence, identified by Max Weber as the foundation of the state, and thus the capacity to govern effectively. In this paper we develop a new perspective on the establishment of the monopoly of violence and the formation of the state. We build a model to explain the incentive of central states to eliminate non-state armed actors (paramilitaries) in a democracy. The model is premised on the idea that paramilitaries may choose to and can influence elections. Since paramilitaries have preferences over policies, this reduces the incentives of the politicians they favor to eliminate them. The model also shows that while in non-paramilitary areas policies are targeted at citizens, in paramilitary controlled areas they are targeted at paramilitaries. We then investigate the predictions of our model using data from Colombia between 1991 and 2006. We first present regression and case study evidence supporting our postulate that paramilitary groups can have significant effects on elections for the legislature and the executive. Next, we show that the evidence is also broadly consistent with the implication of the model that paramilitaries tend to persist to the extent that they deliver votes to candidates for the executive whose preferences are close to theirs and that this effect is larger in areas where the Presidential candidate would have otherwise not done as well. These results illustrate that, consistent with our model, there appears to be a symbiotic relationship between some executives and paramilitaries. Finally, we use roll-call votes to illustrate a possible ‘quid pro quo’ between the executive and paramilitaries in Colombia.
    JEL: D7 H11
    Date: 2009–12
  4. By: Sanghamitra Bandyopadhyay; Joan Esteban
    Abstract: We introduce a model of redistributive income taxation and public expenditure. This joint treatment permits analyzing the interdependencies between the two policies: one cannot be chosen independently of the other. Empirical evidence reveals that partisan confrontation essentially falls on expenditure policies rather than on income taxation. We examine the case in which the expenditure policy (or the size of government) is chosen by majority voting and income taxation is consistently adjusted. This adjustment consists of designing the income tax schedule that, given the expenditure policy, achieves consensus among the population. The model determines the consensus in- come tax schedule, the composition of public expenditure and the size of government. The main results are that inequality is negatively related to the size of government and to the pro-rich bias in public expenditure, and positively or negatively related to the marginal income tax, depending on substitutability between government supplied and market goods. These implications are validated using OECD data.
    Keywords: Government policy, Income Taxation, Public Expenditure.
    JEL: H23 H50
    Date: 2009–12–14
  5. By: Rodriguez, Francisco; Wagner, Rodrigo
    Abstract: For how long does cultural heritage persist? Do the culturally inherited values of immigrants dilute as generations pass? We answer these question by studying the relationship between revealed political behavior of immigrant families and the culture of the place where they migrated from, either one or many generations ago. Using surnames as indicators of region of origin of Italians in Venezuela, we study the effect of cultural heritage on two indicators of revealed political behavior: (i) propensity for civic engagement, and (ii) propensity for redistribution. A well established literature documents greater propensity for civic engagement and lower propensity for redistribution among Northern Italians. In Venezuela, we measure the former by turnout before the era of political polarization and the latter by signing behavior against Hugo Chávez in the 2004 recall referendum drive. Despite the fact that the wave of Italian immigration to Venezuela occurred more than half a century before the events studied in this paper, we do not find a greater propensity for civic engagement nor preference against redistribution among descendants from Northern as opposed to Southern Italians, suggesting that cultural assimilation may be a strong determinant of political behavior in the long run.
    Keywords: Social capital; political incorporation of immigrants; family economics; redistribution; political preferences; civic engagement; Latin America
    JEL: F22 Z1 P26
    Date: 2009–08–01
  6. By: Kohnert, Dirk
    Abstract: Recent development cooperation with Guinea-Bissau, focussing on good governance, state-building and conflict prevention, did not contribute to democratization nor to the stabilization of volatile political, military and economic structures. Both the portrayal of Guinea-Bissau as failed ‘narco state' as well as Western aid meant to stabilize this state are based on doubtful concepts. Certainly, the impact of drug trafficking could endanger democratization and state-building if continued unchecked. However, the most pressing need is not state-building, facilitated by external aid, yet poorly rooted in the social and political fabric of the country, but nation-building by national reconciliation, as a pre-condition for the creation of viable state institutions.
    Keywords: elections; democratization; informal institutions; aid; failed states; nation-building; institution building; drug trafficking; Guinea-Bissau; Africa;
    JEL: N47 Z1 O17 E26 H76 D72 K14
    Date: 2009–12–01
  7. By: Blume, Lawrence (Department of Economics, Cornell University, Ithaca, USA); Easley, David (Department of Economics, Cornell University, Ithaca, USA); Halpern, Joseph Y. (Department of Computer Science, Cornell University, Ithaca, USA)
    Abstract: Contemporary approaches to decision making describe a decision problem by sets of states and outcomes, and a rich set of acts: functions from states to outcomes over which the decision maker (DM) has preferences. Real problems do not come so equipped. It is often unclear what the state and outcome spaces would be. We present an alternative foundation for decision making, in which the primitive objects of choice are syntactic programs. We show that if the DM's preference relation on objects of choice satisfies appropriate axioms, then we can find states, outcomes, and an embedding of the programs into Savage acts such that preferences can be represented by EU in the Savage framework. A modeler can test for SEU behavior without having access to the subjective states and outcomes. We illustrate the power of our approach by showing that it can represent DMs who are subject to framing effects.
    Keywords: Decision theory, subjective expected utility, behavioral anomalies
    JEL: D01
    Date: 2009–12
  8. By: Francesco Scervini (University of Torino)
    Abstract: The amount of taxes and public expenditures seems to be uncorrelated to the level of market inequality in OECD countries. This empirical evidence is diffcult to be rationalized in a standard median voter theorem setting, where individuals rationally choose their preferred redistribution scheme. This paper reconciles theory and evidence by introducing a source of political asymmetry, that is income inequality: assuming that political activity is costly, income distribution can be a determinant of political asymmetry, provided that some classes of individuals are not able to satisfy their political budget constraint. The political framework consists of a bi-dimensional policy space where preferences over cash redistribution are monotonically decreasing with income, while those over in-kind redistribution depend on the middle class position, according to Director's law. The result is that the elected policy maker is increasingly biased toward rich classes of population as far as market income inequality increases.
    Keywords: Income distribution, Redistribution, Political process, Publicly provided goods
    JEL: D31 D72 H42
    Date: 2009–11
  9. By: Frederik Herzberg (Institute of Mathematical Economics, Bielefeld University); Daniel Eckert (Institute of Public Economics, Graz University)
    Abstract: This article proves a very general version of the Kirman-Sondermann [Journal of Economic Theory, 5(2):267-277, 1972] correspondence by extending the methodology of Lauwers and Van Liedekerke [Journal of Mathematical Economics, 24(3):217-237, 1995]. The paper first proposes a unified framework for the analysis of the relation between various aggregation problems and the social structure they induce, based on first-order predicate logic and model theory. Thereafter, aggregators satisfying Arrow-type rationality axioms are shown to be restricted reduced product constructions with respect to the filter of decisive coalitions; an oligarchic impossibility result follows. Under stronger assumptions, aggregators are restricted ultraproduct constructions, whence a generalised Kirman-Sondermann correspondence as well as a dictatorial impossibility result follow.
    Keywords: Arrow-type preference aggregation, judgment aggregation, systematicity, model theory, first-order predicate logic, filter, ultrafilter, reduced product, ultraproduct
    JEL: D71
    Date: 2009–11

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