nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2005‒07‒03
seven papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. Ideology and existence of 50%-majority equilibria in multidimensional spatial voting models By Herve Cres; M. Utku Unver
  2. Socially Optimal Districting By Stephen Coate; Brian Knight
  3. Extreme Voting under Proportional Representation: The Multidimensional Case By Francesco De Sinopoli; Giovanna Iannantuoni
  4. Collective economic decisions and the discursive dilemma By Carl Andreas Claussen; Øistein Røisland
  5. Social Capital, Public Spending and the Quality of Economic Development By Fabio Sabatini
  6. The Economic Effects of Judicial Accountability - Some Preliminary Insights By Stefan Voigt
  7. Collapse or Order? Questioning State Collapse in Africa By Timothy Raeymaekers

  1. By: Herve Cres (HEC Paris); M. Utku Unver (Koc University)
    Abstract: When aggregating individual preferences through the majority rule in an n-dimensional spatial voting model, the `worst-case' scenario is a social choice configuration where no political equilibrium exists unless a super majority rate as high as 1-1/n is adopted. In this paper we assume that a lower d-dimensional (d smaller than n) linear map spans the possible candidates' platforms. These d `ideological' dimensions imply some linkages between the n political issues. We randomize over these linkages and show that there almost surely exists a 50%-majority equilibria in the above worst-case scenario, when n grows to infinity. Moreover the equilibrium is the mean voter. The speed of convergence (toward 50%) of the super majority rate guaranteeing existence of equilibrium is computed for d=1 and 2.
    JEL: D1 D2 D3 D4
    Date: 2005–06–21
  2. By: Stephen Coate; Brian Knight
    Abstract: This paper provides a welfare economic analysis of the problem of districting. In the context of a simple micro-founded model intended to capture the salient features of U.S. politics, it studies how a social planner should allocate citizens of different ideologies across districts to maximize aggregate utility. In the model, districting determines the equilibrium seat-vote curve which is the relationship between the aggregate vote share of the political parties and their share of seats in the legislature. To understand optimal districting, the paper first characterizes the optimal seat-vote curve which describes the ideal relationship between votes and seats. It then shows that under rather weak conditions the optimal seat-vote curve is implementable in the sense that there exist districtings which make the equilibrium seat-vote curve equal to the optimal seat-vote curve. The nature of these optimal districtings is described. Finally, the paper provides a full characterization of the constrained optimal seat-vote curve and the districtings that underlie it when the optimal seat-vote curve is not achievable.
    JEL: D7
    Date: 2005–07
  3. By: Francesco De Sinopoli; Giovanna Iannantuoni
    Abstract: We study the strategic behavior of voters in a model of proportional representation, in which the policy space is multidimensional. Our main finding is that in large electorate, under some assumptions on voters'preferences, voters essentially vote, in any equilibrium, only for the extreme parties.
    Keywords: Strategic Voting, Proportional Rule, Nash Equilibrium
    JEL: C72 D72
    Date: 2005–06
  4. By: Carl Andreas Claussen (Norges Bank); Øistein Røisland (Norges Bank)
    Abstract: Most economic decisions involve judgments. When decisions are taken collectively, various judgment aggregation problems may occur. Here we consider an aggregation problem called the "discursive dilemma", which is characterized by an inconsistency between the aggregate judgment on the premises for a conclusion and the aggregate judgment on the conclusion itself. It thus matter for the decision whether the group uses a premise- or a conclusion-based decisionmaking procedure. The current literature, primarily within jurisprudence, philosophy, and social choice, consider aggregation of qualitative judgments on propositions. Most economic decisions, however, involve quantitative judgments on economic variables. We develop a framework that is suitable for analyzing the relevance of the discursive dilemma for economic decisions. Assuming that decisions are reached either through majority voting or by averaging, we find that the dilemma cannot be ruled out, except under some restrictive assumptions about the relationship between the premise-variables and the conclusion.
    Keywords: Collective economic decisions, Judgement aggregation, Inconsistency
    JEL: D71 E60
    Date: 2005–06–29
  5. By: Fabio Sabatini (University of Rome La Sapienza)
    Abstract: This paper carries out an empirical assessment of the relationship between social capital and the quality of economic development in Italy. The analysis draws on a dataset collected by the author including about two hundred variables representing different aspects of economic development and four “structural” dimensions of social capital. The quality of development is measured through human development and indicators of the state of health of urban ecosystems, public services, gender equality, and labour markets, while social capital is measured through synthetic indicators representing strong family ties, weak informal ties, voluntary organizations, and political participation. The quality of development exhibits a strong positive correlation with bridging weak ties and a negative correlation with strong family ties. Particularly, the analysis shows a strong correlation between informal ties and an indicator of “social well-being” (synthetizing gender equality, public services and labour markets) and between voluntary organizations and the state of health of urban ecosystems. Active political participation proves to be irrelevant in terms of development and well-being. Finally, the role of public spending for education, health care, welfare work, and the environment protection is analysed, revealing a scarce correlation both with social capital and development indicators.
    Keywords: Social capital, Social networks, Public spending, Economic development, Principal component analysis
    JEL: O15 O18 R11
    Date: 2005–06–29
  6. By: Stefan Voigt (Department of Economics, University of Kassel)
    Abstract: Judicial independence is not only a necessary condition for the impartiality of judges, it can also endanger it: judges that are independent could have incentives to remain uninformed, become lazy or even corrupt. It is therefore often argued that judicial independence and judicial accountability are competing ends. In this paper, it is, however, hypothesized that they are not necessarily competing ends but can be complementary means towards achieving impartiality and, in turn, the rule of law. It is further argued that judicial accountability can increase per capita income through various channels one of which is the reduction of corruption. First tests concerning the economic effects of JA are carried out drawing on the absence of corruption within the judiciary as well as data gathered by the U.S. State Department as proxies. On the basis of 75 countries, these proxies are highly significant for explaining differences in per capita income.
    Keywords: Judicial Independence, judicial accountability, rule of law, economic growth, corruption, constitutional political economy
    JEL: H11 K40 O40 P51
    Date: 2005–06
  7. By: Timothy Raeymaekers (Conflict Research Group, Ghent University)
    Abstract: In the aftermath of 9/11, the problem of state ‘collapse’ and ‘failure’ appears again on the agenda as an important question of global security. Meanwhile, the discussion on this phenomenon seems to be placed in a growing deadlock between classical state-centrist approaches, which keep pointing at functional problems of modern statehood, and more society-oriented insights that try to explain other political and economic loyalties that have emerged in the context of weak state performance. Both approaches nonetheless appear increasingly incapable of defining and delimiting the notion of political order absent of an overarching state framework. While often contradictory explanations exist about what may lead states to collapse, little grounding is provided as to what actually lays beyond this witnessed breakdown of public authority. Besides the global war on terror, such grounding appears more necessary than ever if we look at the continuing problematic nature of statehood in many parts of sub-Sahara Africa, a continent hitherto beset with endemic warfare. This paper makes a first attempt to fill these blank spaces on the analytical map. It does so by explaining, first, the obstacles that appear to be blocking an integrative approach towards the problem of state implosion. Second, it offers a first step into developing an alternative framework for studying political order in situations of post state collapse’. Central to this approach is the notion of political power (or social control): taking as an entry point the “areas of domination and opposition” that exist in the midst of state-society relations, it specifically looks at the different forces in society that try to monopolize the three domains that are traditionally connected to modern state performance: (1) the monopoly over violence, (2) the allocation of economic resources and (3) the representation of a more or less ‘fixed’ population. Although obviously more sympathetic to more society-oriented approaches, the presented view nonetheless tries to combine these with a more integrative model of state-society relations, which serves to analyze how states and societies continue to constitute and transform one another in a context of growing political insecurity.
    Date: 2005

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