nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2005‒04‒16
24 papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. The Political Budget Cycle is Where You Can't See It: Transparency and Fiscal Manipulation By James E. Alt; David Dreyer Lassen
  2. The Political Economy of Trade Policy: Empirical Approaches By kishore gawande; pravin krishna
  3. Who Is Against Immigration? A Cross-Country Investigation of Individual Attitudes towards Immigrants By Anna Maria Mayda (Georgetown University)
  4. Why are some people (and countries) more protectionist than others? By Anna Maria Mayda (Georgetown University) and Dani Rodrik (Harvard University)
  5. Early versus Late Coalition Announcement in Experimental Democracies By Robert E. Goodin; Rupert Sausgruber; Werner Güth
  6. A Whiter Shade of Pale: on the Political Economy of Regulatory Instruments By Baldursson, Fridrik M; von der Fehr, Nils-Henrik M
  7. Values and Politics in the US: An Equilibrium Analysis of the 2004 Election By Woojin Lee; John Roemer
  8. Fundamentalist attitudes and the export of democracy By Luca Correani
  9. Institutions and Agricultural Productivity in Sub-Saharan Africa By Lilyan E. Fulginiti; Richard K. Perrin; Bingxin Yu
  10. Endogenous Globalization and Income Divergence By Yoshiaki Sugimoto
  11. Measuring Social Capital in Italy. An Exploratory Analysis By Fabio Sabatini
  12. Altruism and Political Participation By James Fowler
  13. Markov Equilibrium in Models of Dynamic Endogenous Political Institutions By Roger Lagunoff
  14. IMF Bailouts and Moral Hazard By Jong-Wha Lee; Kwanho Shin
  15. Consistency versus credibility: how do countries choose their exchange rate regime? By Fabrizio Carmignani; Emilio Colombo; Patrizio Tirelli
  16. Contagion in Latin America By Angelo Polydoro
  17. Privatization in Sub-Saharan Africa: Some Lessons from Experiences to Date By Thierry Buchs
  18. A Model of Endogeneous Oil Spill Regulation By Ayla Ogus
  19. Loss Aversion, Presidential Responsibility, and Midterm Congressional Elections By John W. Patty
  20. A Note on Wealth as a Corruption-Controlling Device By Rafael Di Tella; Federico Weinschelbaum
  22. Why Do Voters Demand Universal Government Benefits? By Filip Palda
  23. POLICY INNOVATION IN FEDERAL SYSTEMS By Christos Kotsogiannis; Robert Schwager
  24. The socio-cultural and political-economic causes of corruption: a cross-country analysis By Aida Isabel Tavares

  1. By: James E. Alt (Department of Government, Harvard University); David Dreyer Lassen (Institute of Economics, University of Copenhagen)
    Abstract: We investigate the effects of fiscal transparency and political polarization on the prevalence of electoral cycles in fiscal balance. The recent political economy literature on electoral cycles identifies such cycles mainly in weak and recent democracies. In contrast, we show, conditioning on a new index of institutional fiscal transparency, that electoral cycles in fiscal balance are a feature also of advanced industrialized economies. Using a sample of nineteen OECD countries in the 1990’s, we identify a persistent pattern of electoral cycles in low(er) transparency countries, while no such cycles can be observed in high(er) transparency countries. Furthermore, we find, in accordance with recent theory, that electoral cycles are larger in more politically polarized countries.
    Keywords: fiscal transparency; political polarization; fiscal policy; budget deficits; political budget cycles; electoral policy cycles
    JEL: D72 E62 H62
    Date: 2005–03
  2. By: kishore gawande (texas a&m u.); pravin krishna (Johns hopkins u.)
    Abstract: In order to explain the prevalence and persistence of trade protection, a large body of work that departs from the notion of welfare maximizing governments and emphasizes instead political-economic determinants of policy has recently emerged. This survey paper summarizes and evaluates analytically the empirical component of this literature. We discuss a broad set of empirical findings which provide a convincing confirmation of the presence and significance of political economy influences. We also discuss some puzzles and controversies that have emerged in recent work.
    JEL: D72 D78 F12 F13 F14
    Date: 2005–03–09
  3. By: Anna Maria Mayda (Georgetown University) (Department of Economics, Georgetown University)
    Abstract: This paper empirically analyzes both economic and non-economic determinants of attitudes towards immigrants, within nd across countries. The two individual-level survey data sets used, covering a wide range of developed and developing countries, make it possible to test for interactive effects between individual characteristics and country-level attributes. In particular, trade and labor-economics theories of labor markets predict that the correlation between proimmigration attitudes and individual skill should be related to the skill composition of natives relative to immigrants in the destination country. Skilled individuals should favor immigration in countries where natives are more skilled than immigrants and oppose it in the other countries. Results based on both direct and indirect measures of the relative skill composition of natives to immigrants are consistent with these predictions. Individual skill and pro-immigration attitudes are positively correlated in countries where the skill composition of natives relative to immigrants is high. Individuals with higher levels of skill are more likely to be pro-immigration in high per capita GDP countries and less likely in low per capita GDP countries. Non-economic variables also appear to be correlated with immigration attitudes but they don’t seem to alter significantly the results on the economic explanations. Classification-JEL Codes: F22, F1, J61
    Keywords: Immigration Attitudes, International Migration, Political Economy
  4. By: Anna Maria Mayda (Georgetown University) and Dani Rodrik (Harvard University) (Department of Economics, Georgetown University)
    Abstract: We analyze two cross-country data sets that contain information on attitudes toward trade as well as a broad range of socio-demographic and other indicators. We find that pro-trade preferences are significantly and robustly correlated with an individual's level of human capital, in the manner predicted by the factor endowments model. Preferences over trade are also correlated with the trade exposure of the sector in which an individual is employed: individuals in nontraded sectors tend to be the most pro-trade, while individuals in sectors with a revealed comparative disadvantage are the most protectionist. Third, an individual's relative economic status has a very strong positive association with pro-trade attitudes. Finally, non-economic determinants, in the form of values, identities, and attachments, play an important role in explaining the variation in preferences over trade. High degrees of neighborhood attachment and nationalism/patriotism are associated with protectionist tendencies. Classification-JEL Codes: F1
    Keywords: Immigration Attitudes, International Migration, Political Economy
  5. By: Robert E. Goodin; Rupert Sausgruber; Werner Güth
    Abstract: Sometimes parties decide ahead of an election with whom they would (if possible) join in a coalition together. Other times they leave it completely open, until after the election, with whom they would coalesce. Observations from the political arena itself do not allow us to determine the differing effects of coalition forming before or after the election. We therefore explore the question experimentally, in a situation with three parties and seven voters. There are striking effects regarding party behaviour: coalitions formed before the election are much more likely to be ideologically better-connected but larger than necessary and contain superfluous parties. Voters, however, seem not to vote strategically more often in cases of preannounced coalition intentions in ways we might expect.
  6. By: Baldursson, Fridrik M (University of Iceland); von der Fehr, Nils-Henrik M (Dept. of Economics, University of Oslo)
    Abstract: We consider an intertemporal policy game between changing governments that differ in their attitudes towards a particular feature of market outcomes, exemplified with environmental pollution. When in power, a government will choose policy instruments and set strictness of regulation with a view to influencing the policy of future, possibly different, governments. We demonstrate that a ‘brown’ government favours emission quotas over effluent taxes, as quotas establish property rights that are costly to reverse. Conversely, a ‘green’ government prefers to regulate by taxes, in order to limit the incentives of future ‘brown’ governments to ease regulations. Strategic behaviour tends to exaggerate policy differences (making ‘green’ governments ‘greener’ and ‘brown’ governments ‘browner’) compared to when such strategic considerations were not an issue.
    Keywords: regulation; political economy; effluent taxes; tradable quotas; property rights; commitment; environmental management
    JEL: D81 H23 L51 Q28 Q38
    Date: 2004–12–04
  7. By: Woojin Lee (University of Massachusetts Amherst); John Roemer (Yale University)
    Abstract: The CNN exit polls after the 2004 election rated ‘moral values’ the most important issue; next came ‘jobs and the economy.’ Eighty percent of the voters who rated moral values the most important issue voted for Bush while eighty percent of the voters who rated jobs and the economy the most important voted for Kerry. We study the extent to which the distribution of voter opinion on moral values influences the positions that parties take on the economic issue, which we take to be the size of the public sector, through political competition. There are at least two distinct ways this influence might occur. First, because the Republican Party is identified with a traditionalist stance on moral values, some voters who desire a large public sector may nevertheless vote Republican because traditionalist morality is important for them. This we call the policy bundle effect. Second, it may be the case that those who subscribe to a traditionalist morality take economic conservatism to be part of that view, in the sense that they view the state as, for instance, usurping the role of the individual and/or family. We call this effect the moral Puritanism effect. Thus economic conservatism in the US may be politically strengthened by moral traditionalism because the Republican Party links the two issues (policy bundle) or because moral traditionalists in the US are anti-statist (in the Puritan sense). Our analysis will enable us to predict how equilibrium policies proposed by Democratic and Republican Parties would change if all voters had the same view on the moral-values issue, and we will decompose these changes into the aforementioned two effects. JEL Categories: D3, D7, H2
    Keywords: moral values, redistribution, moral Puritanism effect, policy bundle effect, party unanimity Nash equilibrium
    Date: 2005–04
  8. By: Luca Correani (University of Tuscia, Department of economics - Viterbo, Italy)
    Abstract: Is democracy exportable? A present-day political doctrine seems to recommend exporting democracy to those countries where diffused religious and social values do not allow the spontaneous growth of democratic institutions. In this paper we present a model that allows us to study the dynamics induced by the exogenous imposition of democracy, when the society is dominated by antidemocratic preferences. We analyze the dynamics of the distribution of democratic values in a population where agents have heterogeneous preferences about democracy, distinguishing between fundamentalist-antidemocratic agents and democratic agents (implicit references to Moslem societies are pervasive in this paper). Cultural traits and norms are acquired through a process of intergenerational cultural transmission and socialization. The driving force in the equilibrium selection process is the education effort exerted by parents; this depends on the distribution of democratic values in the population and on expectations about future policies affecting formal and informal institutions. The main result is that when fundamentalism is sufficiently diffused in all institutional dimensions of social life, the imposition of formal democratic rules do not significantly affect social preferences. This occurs because the existing democratic types perceive their children’s “conversion” to fundamentalism as less costly than the utility cost perceived by fundamentalist types when their children adopt democratic preferences: so fundamentalists’ education effort dominates the dynamic of preferences. As soon as the exogenous imposition is removed the system will again converge to fundamentalist and antidemocratic institutions. We argue that shortsighted behaviour like this by democratic agents might be strongly correlated to the level of economic development. On the other hand the model shows how a cruel fundamentalist dictatorship can not wholly destroy democratic preferences in the population; the sole result is a fictitious homologation of manifested attitudes, with no preferences dynamics and the previous real attitudes immediately emerging as soon as dictatorship falls. JEL classification: E13; P16 Keywords: Democracy, Cultural change, Formation of Preferences
    JEL: E13 P16
    Date: 2005–01–25
  9. By: Lilyan E. Fulginiti (University of Nebraska); Richard K. Perrin (University of Nebraska); Bingxin Yu (University of Nebraska)
    Abstract: Agricultural productivity in 41 Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) countries from 1960 to 1999 is examined by estimating a semi-nonparametric Fourier production frontier. Over the four decades the estimated rate of productivity change was 0.83% per year, although the average rate from 1985-99 was a strong 1.90% per year. Former UK colonies exhibited significantly higher productivity gains than others, while Liberia and countries that had been colonies of Portugal or Belgium exhibited net reductions in productivity. We measure a significant reduction in productivity during political conflicts and wars, and a significant increase in productivity among those countries with higher levels of political rights and civil liberties.
    Keywords: Sub-Saharan Africa, agricultural productivity, institutions, stochastic frontier, Fourier functional form.
    JEL: Q
    Date: 2005–02–28
  10. By: Yoshiaki Sugimoto (Department of Economics, European University Institute)
    Abstract: This paper develops a growth theory that accounts for the evolution of trade policy, underlying internal class conflicts, and global income divergence over the last few centuries. By analyzing political responses to the distributional effects of international trade, this paper finds a prominent interaction between trade policy and the pattern of economic development, and suggests that the nature of the interaction depends on a country's resource abundance and distribution. As shown by the example of Western Europe, land-scarce countries will reach a developed stage through a non-monotonic evolution of trade policy. In contrast, land- abundant countries, especially those with concentrated landownership, tend to fail to take off because of landlords' opposition to industrialization.
    Keywords: Trade Policy, Growth, Class Conflict
    JEL: F10 F13 F43 O11 O40
    Date: 2005–03–12
  11. By: Fabio Sabatini (University of Rome La Sapienza)
    Abstract: The aim of this paper is to trace a map of Italian local social capital endowments. It focuses on the “structural” dimension of the concept, as identified with social networks. The analysis is based on a dataset collected by the author including about two hundred indicators of five main social capital dimensions: strong family ties, weak informal ties, voluntary organizations, civic awareness, and political participation. 51 key variables are selected for performing principal component analyses both on each of the five groups and on the entire dataset, in order to build latent indicators for every single social capital’s dimension and for the concept as a whole. Finally, a multiple factor analysis is run on the entire dataset, in search of a single synthetic measure of social capital. A clear distinction emerges between bonding social capital, shaped by strong family ties, and bridging and linking social capital, shaped by weak ties among friends, neighboors and members in voluntary organizations. Areas characterized by high levels of bonding social capital can suffer from a lack of bridging and linking ties. The study provides a valuable synthetic indicator capturing the particular configuration of social capital which the literature generally associates with positive economic outcomes.
    Keywords: Social capital, Social networks, Economic development, Principal component analysis, Multiple factor analysis
    JEL: A12 O10 O18 R11
    Date: 2005–04–11
  12. By: James Fowler (UC Davis)
    Abstract: I rework the traditional calculus of participation model by adding a term for benefits to others. Altruism is shown to affect participation in two ways. First, although the probability that a single act of participation affects the outcome of a political activity in large populations is quite small, the number of people who enjoy the benefit is large. As a result, altruists have a significant incentive to participate. Second, if politics involves transfers from one group to another, then unconditional altruists gain nothing from participating. However, discriminating altruists who care more about some groups than others will have a significant incentive to participate in activities that make members of their preferred groups better off. I use dictator games to measure altruism towards an unidentified anonymous recipient and two recipients identified only as a registered Democrat or a registered Republican. These allocations also permit a distinction between discriminating altruists and unconditional altruists. The results show that partisanship has several important effects on dictator game allocations, and both altruism and discriminating altruism significantly increase political participation.
    JEL: C9
    Date: 2005–04–01
  13. By: Roger Lagunoff (Georgetown University)
    Abstract: This paper examines existence of Markov equilibria in the class of dynamic political games (DPGs). DPGs are dynamic games in which political institutions are endogenously determined each period. The process of change is both recursive and instrumental: the rules for political aggregation at date t+1 are decided by the rules at date t, and the resulting institutional choices do not affect payoffs or technology directly. Equilibrium existence in dynamic political games requires a resolution to a “political fixed point problem” in which a current political rule (e.g., majority voting) admits a solution only if all feasible political rules in the future admit solutions in all states. If the class of political rules is dynamically consistent, then DPGs are shown to admit political fixed points. This result is used to prove two equilibrium existence theorems, one of which implies that equilibrium strategies, public and private, are smooth functions of the economic state. We discuss practical applications that require existence of smooth equilibria.
    Keywords: Recursive, dynamic political games, political fixed points, dynamically consistent rules.
    JEL: C73 D72 D74
    Date: 2005–01–26
  14. By: Jong-Wha Lee (Korea University); Kwanho Shin (Korea University)
    Abstract: This paper empirically investigates the extent of investor moral hazard associated with IMF bailouts by analyzing the responses of sovereign bond spreads to the changes in the perceived probability of IMF bailouts of countries undergoing financial crisis. We do not find strong evidence that the extent of investor moral hazard changed after the non-bailout of Russia in August 1998 that signaled a modification to IMF intervention policy. In contrast, we find evidence that investor moral hazard is intensified for those countries that have stronger political connections to the IMF and that are thereby more likely to be bailed out by the IMF. This pattern prevailed even after the Russian crisis.
    Keywords: IMF, moral hazard, sovereign bond spreads, international financial architecture
    JEL: F33 F34
    Date: 2005–01–28
  15. By: Fabrizio Carmignani (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe); Emilio Colombo (University of Milan - Bicocca); Patrizio Tirelli (University of Milan - Bicocca)
    Abstract: The empirical distinction between de facto and de jure exchange rate regimes raises a number of interesting questions. Which factors may induce a de facto peg? Why do countries enforce a peg but do not announce it? Why do countries 'break their promises'? In this paper we show that a stable socio-political and an efficient political decision- making process are a necessary prerequisite for choosing a peg and sticking to it. Whenever a country is implementing a de facto peg the same factors signal that the peg is more likely to be announced. Finally these factors explain why regime choices are not reversed.
    Keywords: Exchange Rate regime Choice Exchange Rate Regime Classification Political Systems
    JEL: F3 F4
    Date: 2005–02–04
  16. By: Angelo Polydoro (EPGE - School of Pos-Graduate Economics)
    Abstract: Latin America suffer before each democratic election due to its structural clivage, high social inequity and demands. The objective of this paper is to show that at elections, for some importants countries, the contagion effects increase the correlation of the return series markets.
    Keywords: Political Economics, Contagion Methods, Return Series, Electoral Cycles
    JEL: C20 N26
    Date: 2005–03–11
  17. By: Thierry Buchs
    Abstract: Privatization became a central element of economic reforms in most countries in Sub-Saharan Africa during the 1990s. Yet, empirical evidence regarding the impact of privatization remains scarce. Since the seminal work of CAMPBELL-WHITE & BHATIA [1998], covering transactions on the African continent until 1996, no comprehensive assessment has been conducted. At a time when public opposition to further privatization is growing, this paper aims at giving a broad overview of the impact of privatization in Sub-Saharan Africa from 1991 to 2002 in the light of recent developments, and to derive some general trends and conclusions from the body of empirical evidence available to date. During this period, about 2300 privatization transactions have taken place, generating a total sales value estimated at US$ 9 billion. The main findings on the impact of privatization are as follows: first, privatization has had a minimal one-off impact on the budget; second, firm turnover and profitability have generally increased immediately following privatization but the evidence is mixed regarding the sustainability of the initial post-privatization upswing; third, employment has been adversely affected by privatization, although the latter has not resulted in massive layoffs in absolute terms; fourth, FDI and stock markets have played a limited role in privatization transactions despite some showcase transactions; fifth, regulation and competition have often been overlooked in the privatization process, and even where they have been dealt with, enforcement problems have greatly limited their effectiveness; sixth, privatization has created new political patronage opportunities, leading to numerous corruption scandals which have damaged the credibility of the privatization process; finally, social aspects of privatizations have generally been overlooked, reflecting the tendency to focus on privatization transactions, rather than on sector reorganization at large including wider social objectives.
    Keywords: Africa, competition, governance, privatization, regulation
    JEL: L33 L41
    Date: 2005–02–23
  18. By: Ayla Ogus (Izmir University of Economics)
    Abstract: This paper presents a model of endogenous oil spill regulation where the severity of regulations is shown to be a function of the size of recent spills. The regulator chooses how much to regulate in order to maximize political capital when regulations are rigid downwards and the distribution of spills is not known with certainty. Very large spills are shown to cause large increases in the regulation level. In the event that an unlikely disastrous spill is realized, major regulatory reform may take place which would take the regulations to too high a level.
    Keywords: general equilibrium, endogeneous
    JEL: D9
    Date: 2005–04–08
  19. By: John W. Patty (Carnegie Mellon University)
    Abstract: I explore a behavioral model of political participation, first introduced by Quattrone and Tversky [1988], based on the primitives of prospect theory, as defined by Kahneman and Tversky [1979]. The model offers an alternative explanation for why the President’s party tends to lose seats in midterm congressional elections. The model is examined empirically and compared against competing explanations for the “midterm phenomenon”.
    Keywords: Loss aversion, midterm elections, congressional elections, negative voting, midterm effect
    JEL: D6 D7 H
    Date: 2005–02–16
  20. By: Rafael Di Tella (Harvard Business School); Federico Weinschelbaum (Universidad de San Andrés)
    Abstract: In the standard moral hazard model, withholding of effort by the agent is not observable to the principal. We argue that this assumption has to be changed in applications that study corruption. The overwhelming majority of cases where corrupt politicians have been punished involve the detection of consumption levels that appear to be too high. The informativeness of an agent’s level of consumption depends on his initial level of wealth as conspicuous consumption of luxuries by wealthy agents leads to little updating of the principal’s belief about their honesty. This introduces a tendency to choose poor agents as they are easier to monitor. More generally, we show that, even if agents have similar preferences, there are contractual advantages to selecting particular types. We describe the basic problem of choosing agents and monitoring consumption, and discuss a number of features of the practical applications. We show that selecting rich politicians may not help fight corruption and that the political class will exhibit lower variance in consumption than the population. In settings were formal contracts matter, we show that monitoring consumption introduces a tendency towards low powered incentive schemes (and more generally low wages) and that the measure of “moral” costs that is often employed in the literature can be derived (not assumed).
    Keywords: Choosing agents, monitoring consumption, low wages, moral costs
    JEL: K42 D82 L52
    Date: 2005–03–08
  21. By: Fabrizio Carmignani (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe)
    Abstract: In a simple theoretical framework, the quality of institutions affects individual’s investment decisions, and hence income levels and distribution. When institutions deteriorates and inequalities increase, the incumbent undertakes redistributive taxation to maintain political support. The quality of institutions and the extent of redistribution depend on the degree of government responsiveness to citizens and on the credibility of the political opposition to the incumbent. The econometric analysis is based on both single equation models and systems of equations. Good institutions are found to reduce the Gini coefficient and to increase average income, growth, and income of the poor. However, some non-linearites are detected in the institutions-Gini relationship.
    Keywords: Institutions, income distribution, poverty, per-capita income, growth
    JEL: D3 D7 O4 I3
    Date: 2005–03–22
  22. By: Filip Palda (École nationale d'administration publique)
    Abstract: Universal social benefits seem to contradict important notions in economics. They are poorly targeted and must be paid for by what seem to be high taxes. This paper describes the costs of universality and then proposes two competing explanations for why an electorate might wish to pay these costs. It may be harder to identify the poor through targeted social programs than to simply give everyone social benefits and withdraw part of these benefits through the tax system. Or, universality may be a form of political insurance that protects any one group of voters from being exploited by others. Each conjecture leads to different predictions about the manner in which government benefits will vary with the incomes of the recipients. I use a model of tax and spending incidence for Canada in 1990 to see which conjecture helps best to understand the data. I find mixed evidence in favor of the notion that universality is a form of political insurance.
    Keywords: fiscal churning, political efficiency, transfers, Canada
    JEL: D6 D7 H
    Date: 2005–03–30
  23. By: Christos Kotsogiannis (University of Exeter); Robert Schwager (Georg-August-Universitat Gottingen)
    Abstract: Conventional wisdom has it that policy innovation is better promoted in a federal rather than in a unitary system. Recent research, however, has provided theoretical evidence to the contrary: a multi-jurisdictional system is characterized---due to the existence of a horizontal information externality---by under-provision of policy innovation. This paper presents a simple model that introduces political competition for federal office. Under such competition political actors use the innovative policies in order to signal ability to the electorate. In the equilibrium analyzed policy innovation occurs more frequently than in a unitary system. It is thus shown that, once electoral motives are accounted for, the conventional wisdom is validated.
    Keywords: Fiscal federalism; policy innovation; policy experimentation.
    JEL: H77 R59
    Date: 2005–04–04
  24. By: Aida Isabel Tavares (Departamento de Economia, Gestão e Engenharia Industrial, Universidade de Aveiro)
    Abstract: This paper presents an empirical analysis about the economic-political and socialcultural factors that determine the perceived level corruption on a cross country basis. Regressing the Corruption Perception Index on the culture dimensions proposed by Hofstede and by Schwartz and on the social-economic variables such as the human development index, gini coefficient, openness index and political stability indicator, it is found a significant statistical relationship between cultural variables and perceived corruption as well as for the political and economic variables, of which development seems to be the most important factor. Also the cluster analysis shows that as the level of perceived corruption increases, the level of development and openness of countries decreases and the hierarchic, the collectivism and the conservative cultural characteristics tend to be more significant.
    Keywords: corruption, culture, cross-countries
    Date: 2004

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