nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2007‒08‒14
seven papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. Voting Power in the Australian Senate: 1901-2004 By Alex Robson
  2. Platform Stickiness in a Spatial Voting Model By L. Lambertini
  3. The Enfranchisement of Women and the Welfare State By Graziella Bertocchi
  4. Estimating the Impact of Gubernatorial Partisanship on Policy Settings and Economic Outcomes: A Regression Discontinuity Approach By Andrew Leigh
  5. Is Transparency to no avail? Committee Decision-making, Pre-meetings, and Credible Deals By Otto H. Swank; Bauke Visser
  6. An Empitical Analysis of Political and Informative Trends on Municipalities of an Italian Region. By Raffaella SANTOLINI
  7. Are Financial Development and Corruption Control Substitutes in Promoting Growth? By Christian Ahlin; Jiaren Pang

  1. By: Alex Robson
    Abstract: Indices of voting power are intended to measure the a priori degree of in.uence that a voter or party can expect to have in framing legislation or passing motions. Commonly used measures include those proposed by Shapley and Shubik (1954), Banzhaf (1965) and Deegan and Packel (1978). This paper computes these power indices for the Australian Senate for the period 1901-2004. The introduction of the Single Transferable Vote in the Senate in 1949 appears to have had a profound effect on the voting power of both major parties, as well as on the degree of concentration of voting power.
    Date: 2007–06
  2. By: L. Lambertini
    Date: 2007–06
  3. By: Graziella Bertocchi
    Abstract: We offer a rationale for the decision to extend the franchise to women within a politico-economic model where men are richer than women, women display a higher preference for public goods, and women’s disenfranchisement carries a societal cost. We first derive the tax rate chosen by the male median voter when women are disenfranchised. Next we show that, as industrialization raises the reward to mental labor relative to physical labor, women’s relative wage increases. When the cost of disenfranchisement becomes higher than the cost of the higher tax rate which applies under universal enfranchisement, the male median voter is better off extending the franchise to women. A consequent expansion of the size of government is only to be expected in societies with a relatively high cost of disenfranchisement. We empirically test the implications of the model over the 1870-1930 period. We proxy the gender wage gap with the level of per capita income and the cost of disenfranchisement with the presence of Catholicism, which is associated with a more traditional view of women’s role and thus a lower cost. The gender gap in the preferences for public goods is proxied by the availability of divorce, which implies marital instability and a more vulnerable economic position for women. Consistently with the model’s predictions, women suffrage is affected positively by per capita income and negatively by the presence of Catholicism and the availability of divorce, while women suffrage increases the size of government only in non-Catholic countries.
    Keywords: women suffrage, inequality, public goods, welfare state, culture, family, divorce
    JEL: P16 J16 N40 H50
    Date: 2007–07
  4. By: Andrew Leigh
    Abstract: Using panel data from US states over the period 1941-2002, I measure the impact of gubernatorial partisanship on a wide range of different policy settings and economic outcomes. Across 32 measures, there are surprisingly few differences in policy settings, social outcomes and economic outcomes under Democrat and Republican Governors. In terms of policies, Democratic Governors tend to prefer slightly higher minimum wages. Under Republican Governors, incarceration rates are higher, while welfare caseloads are higher under Democratic Governors. In terms of social and economic outcomes, Democratic Governors tend to preside over higher median post-tax income, lower posttax inequality, and lower unemployment rates. However, for 26 of the 32 dependent variables, gubernatorial partisanship does not have a statistically significant impact on policy outcomes and social welfare. I find no evidence of gubernatorial partisan differences in tax rates, welfare generosity, the number of government employees or their salaries, state revenue, incarceration rates, execution rates, pre-tax incomes and inequality, crime rates, suicide rates, and test scores. These results are robust to the use of regression discontinuity estimation, to take account of the possibility of reverse causality. Overall, it seems that Governors behave in a fairly non-ideological manner.
    Keywords: median voter theorem, partisanship, state government, taxation, expenditure, welfare, crime, growth
    JEL: D72 D78 H71 H72 I38
    Date: 2007–06
  5. By: Otto H. Swank (Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam); Bauke Visser (Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam)
    Abstract: Transparent decision-making processes are widely regarded as a prerequisite for the working of a representative democracy. It facilitates accountability, and citizens may suspect that decisions, if taken behind closed doors, do not promote their interests. Why else the secrecy? We provide a model of committee decision-making that explains the public’s demand for transparency, and committee members’ aversion to it. In line with case study evidence, we show how pressures to become transparent induce committee members to organize pre-meetings away from the public eye. Outcomes of pre-meetings are less determined, more anarchic, than those of formal meetings, but within bounds. We characterize feasible deals that are credible and will be endorsed in the formal meeting.
    Keywords: Committee decision-making; reputational concerns; transparency; pre-meetings; deliberation
    JEL: D71 D72 D82
    Date: 2007–07–17
  6. By: Raffaella SANTOLINI (Universita' Politecnica delle Marche, Dipartimento di Economia)
    Abstract: The aim of this paper is to conduct an empirical investigation regarding the presence of political and informative trends in tax setting of local governments as an alternative theoretical explanation to the tax mimick-ing. Both phenomena have been tested on municipalities' cross-sectional data of the Marche region with a spatial econometrics model. Discrimi-nating among several sources of tax mimicking, including public spend-ing spill-over, some evidence was found in favour of the political trend. As regards the informative trend, non significant results were observed testing tax interaction among heterogeneous coalitions. However, some evidence is present on local public spending.
    Keywords: informative trend, political trend, spatial econometrics, tax mimicking
    JEL: C31 H71 H72 H77
    Date: 2007–07
  7. By: Christian Ahlin (Department of Economics, Vanderbilt University); Jiaren Pang (Washington University)
    Abstract: While financial development and corruption control have been studied extensively, their interaction has not. We develop a simple model in which low corruption and financial development both facilitate the undertaking of productive projects, but act as substitutes in doing so. The substitutability arises because corruption raises the need for liquidity and thus makes financial improvements more potent; conversely, financial underdevelopment makes increased corruption more onerous and thus raises the gains from reducing it. We test this substitutability by predicting growth, of countries and industries, using measures of financial development, lack of corruption, and a key interaction term. Both approaches point to positive effects from improving either factor, as well as to a substitutability between them. The growth gain associated with moving from the 25th to the 75th percentile in one factor is 0.63-1.68 percentage points higher if the second factor is at the 25th percentile rather than the 75th. The results show robustness to different measures of corruption and financial development and do not appear to be driven by outliers, omitted variables, or other theories of growth and convergence.
    Keywords: Financial development, growth, complementarity, corruption
    JEL: O16 O17 O40 O43
    Date: 2006–12

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