nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2007‒06‒11
seven papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. The Growth Effect of Democracy: Is It Heterogenous and How Can It Be Estimated? By Torsten Persson; Guido Tabellini
  2. Strategies of the Political Opposition By Amihai Glazer
  3. Community and Class Antagonism By Dasgupta, Indraneel; Kanbur, Ravi
  4. Democratic Jihad ? Military intervention and democracy By Hegre, Havard; Christiansen, Lene Siljeholm; Gleditsch, Nils Petter
  5. Why Kill Politicians? A Rational Choice Analysis of Political Assassinations By Bruno S. Frey
  6. Overprotected Politicians By Bruno S. Frey
  7. Let Me Vote! An experimental study of vote rotation in committees By R. Bosman; P. Maier; V. Sadiraj; F. van Winden

  1. By: Torsten Persson; Guido Tabellini
    Abstract: We estimate the effect of political regime transitions on growth with semi-parametric methods, combining difference in differences with matching, that have not been used in macroeconomic settings. Our semi-parametric estimates suggest that previous parametric estimates may have seriously underestimated the growth effects of democracy. In particular, we find an average negative effect on growth of leaving democracy on the order of -2 percentage points implying effects on income per capita as large as 45 percent over the 1960-2000 panel. Heterogenous characteristics of reforming and non-reforming countries appear to play an important role in driving these results.
    JEL: H11 O11
    Date: 2007–06
  2. By: Amihai Glazer (Department of Economics, University of California-Irvine)
    Abstract: I consider the strategies that an opposition party can use against an incumbent party which controls the government. The focus is on strategies when citizens vote retrospectively (so that the incumbent's chance of winning re-election increases with his performance), and when citizens compare the estimated abilities of the candidates. In both cases, the equilibrium may have the opposition vote against all policies the government proposes.
    Keywords: Political opposition; Reputation; Retrospective voting; Policy implementation
    JEL: D72 D78
    Date: 2007–05
  3. By: Dasgupta, Indraneel; Kanbur, Ravi
    Abstract: We investigate how vertical unity within a community interacts with horizontal class divisions of an unequal income distribution. Community is conceptualized in terms of a public good to which all those in the community have equal access, but from which outsiders are excluded. We formulate the idea of redistributive tension, or class antagonism, in terms of the costs that poorer individuals would be willing to impose on the rich, to achieve a given gain in personal income. Our conclusion is that the nominal distribution of income could give a misleading picture of tensions in society, both within and across communities. Ideologies of community solidarity may well trump those of class solidarity because of the implicit sharing of community resources brought about by community-specific public goods. Greater economic mobility of particular types may actually exacerbate class tensions instead of attenuating them. We illustrate our theoretical results with a discussion of a number of historical episodes of shifting class tensions and alliances.
    Keywords: Class Conflict; Community; Distribution; Ethnic Conflict; Inequality; Public Goods
    JEL: D31 D63 D74 Z13
    Date: 2007–06
  4. By: Hegre, Havard; Christiansen, Lene Siljeholm; Gleditsch, Nils Petter
    Abstract: Democracies rarely if ever fight one another, but they participate in wars as frequently as autocracies. They tend to win the wars in which they participate. Democracies frequently build large alliances in wartime, but not only with other democracies. From time to time democracies intervene militarily in ongoing conflicts. The democratic peace may contribute to a normative justification for such interventions, for the purpose of promoting democracy and eventually for the promotion of peace. This is reinforced by an emerging norm of humanitarian intervention. Democracies may have a motivation to intervene in non-democracies, even in the absence of ongoing conflict, for the purpose of regime change. The recent Iraq War may be interpreted in this perspective. A strong version of this type of foreign policy may be interpreted as a democratic crusade. The paper examines the normative and theoretical foundations of democratic interventionism. An empirical investigation of interventions in the period 1960-96 indicates that democracies intervene quite frequently, but rarely against other democracies. In the short term, democratic intervention appears to be successfully promoting democratization, but the target states tend to end up among the unstable semi-democracies. The most widely publicized recent interventions are targeted on poor or resource-dependent countries in non-democratic neighborhoods. Previous research has found these characteristics to reduce the prospects for stable democracy. Thus, forced democratization is unpredictable with regard to achieving long-term democracy and potentially harmful with regard to securing peace. But short-term military successes may stimulate more interventions until the negative consequences become more visible.
    Keywords: Population Policies,Peace & Peacekeeping,Parliamentary Government,Politics and Government,Political Systems and Analysis
    Date: 2007–06–01
  5. By: Bruno S. Frey
    Abstract: In the course of history a large number of politicians has been assassinated. A rational choice analysis is used to distinguish the expected marginal benefits of killing, and the marginal cost of attacking a politician. The comparative analysis of various equilibria helps us to gain insights into specific historical events. The analysis suggests that – in addition to well-known security measures – an extension of democracy, a rule by a committee of several politicians, more decentralization via the division of power and federalism, and a strengthening of civil society significantly reduce politicians’ probability of being attacked and killed.
    Keywords: Rational choice; democracy; dictatorship; assassination; deterrence
    JEL: D01 D70 K14 K42 Z10
    Date: 2007–05
  6. By: Bruno S. Frey
    Abstract: This paper argues that politicians are overprotected. The costs of political assassination differ systematically depending on whether a private or a public point of view is taken. A politician attributes a very high (if not infinite) cost to his or her survival. The social cost of political assassination is much smaller as politicians are replaceable. Conversely, the private cost of the security measures is low for politicians, its bulk – including time loss and inconvenience – is imposed on taxpayers and the general public. The extent of overprotection is larger in dictatorial than in democratic countries.
    Keywords: Politicians; rational choice; assassination; security; democracy; dictatorship
    JEL: D01 D70 H50 J28 Z10
    Date: 2007–05
  7. By: R. Bosman; P. Maier; V. Sadiraj; F. van Winden
    Abstract: We conduct an experiment to investigate (i) whether rotation in voting increases a committee’s efficiency, and (ii) the extent to which rotation is likely to critically influence collective and individual welfare. The experiment is based on the idea that voters have to trade-off individual versus common interests. Our findings indicate that the choice of a rotation scheme has important consequences: it ‘pays’ to be allowed to vote, as voting committee members earn significantly more than non-voting members. Hence, rotation is not neutral. We also find that smaller committees decide faster and block fewer decisions. This reduces frustration among committee members.
    JEL: D70 D78 E58

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