nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2008‒07‒30
fourteen papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. Is Voting Skin-Deep? Estimating the Effect of Candidate Ballot Photographs on Election Outcomes By Andrew Leigh; Tirta Susilo
  2. Transition from Communism: Political Alternation as a Restraint on Investing in Influence By Milanovic, Branko; Hoff, Karla; Horowitz, Shale
  3. Inter-party vote movements in Turkey between 1999 and 2002: A statistical analysis using cross-provincial election data By Akarca, Ali T.
  4. Democratic Peace and Electoral Accountability¤ By Conconi, Paola; Sahuguet, Nicolas; Zanardi, Maurizio
  5. How populist democracy promotes market liberalization By Pauline Grosjean; Claudia Senik
  6. Can Equality in Education Be A New Anti-Corruption Tool?: Cross-Country Evidence (1990-2005) By Patrawart, Kraiyos
  7. Political institutions and suicide: A regional analysis of Switzerland By Justina AV Fischer; Antonio Rodriguez-Andrés
  8. Some indicators of the democratic performance of the European Union and how they might relate to the RECON models By Christopher Lord
  9. Democracy and social democracy facing contemporary capitalisms: A "régulationist" approach By Robert Boyer
  10. Fostering Civil Society to Build Institutions: Why and When By Peter Grajzl; Peter Murrell
  11. Satisfaction with Democracy and Collective Action Problems: The Case of the Environment By Martin Halla; Friedrich Schneider; Alexander Wagner
  12. The geometry of consistent majoritarian judgement aggregation By Pivato, Marcus
  13. Financial Liberalisation, Bureaucratic Corruption and Economic Development By Keith Blackburn; Gonzalo F. Forgues-Puccio
  14. Citizenship in the United States: The Roles of Immigrant Characteristics and Country of Origin By Chiswick, Barry R.; Miller, Paul W.

  1. By: Andrew Leigh; Tirta Susilo
    Abstract: In the Northern Territory, Australia, ballot papers for territory elections depict candidates’ photographs. We exploit this unusual electoral feature by looking at the effect that candidates’ beauty and skin color has on voting patterns. Our results for beauty are mixed, but we find strong evidence that skin color matters. In electorates with a small Indigenous population, lighter-skinned candidates receive more votes, while in electorates with a high number of Indigenous people, darker-skinned candidates are rewarded at the ballot box. The relationship between skin color and electoral performance is stronger for challengers than incumbents. We explain this with a model in which voters use skin color as a proxy for some underlying characteristic which they value only to the extent that they share the trait.
    Keywords: elections, beauty, race, facial characteristics
    JEL: D72 J45 J71
    Date: 2008–07
  2. By: Milanovic, Branko; Hoff, Karla; Horowitz, Shale
    Abstract: We develop and implement a method for measuring the frequency of changes in power among distinct leaders and ideologically distinct parties that is comparable across political systems. We find that more frequent alternation in power is associated with the emergence of better governance in postcommunist countries. The results are consistent with the hypothesis that firms seek durable protection from the state, which implies that expected political alternation is relevant to the decision whether to invest in influence with the governing party or, alternatively, to demand institutions that apply predictable rules, with equality of treatment, regardless of the party in power.
    Keywords: Governance; transition; political alternation
    JEL: P37 P3
    Date: 2008–07–20
  3. By: Akarca, Ali T.
    Abstract: In the 2002 Turkish parliamentary election, more than half of the voters cast their ballots for a party different than the one they chose in 1999. The outcomes of these elections are analyzed at the provincial level, through a system of regression equations. The results obtained indicate that votes moved from the Virtue, Nationalist Action, Motherland and True Path parties to the Justice and Development Party, from the Democratic Left Party to the Republican People’s and Young parties, and from the Democratic Left, Nationalist Action and Motherland parties to the True Path Party. The Justice and Development Party, the ruling party since 2002, is found to have captured all of the far-right Islamist, about half of the far-right nationalist, and half of the center-right votes.
    Keywords: Elections; Voter behavior; Party preference; Turkey
    JEL: D72
    Date: 2008–04–07
  4. By: Conconi, Paola; Sahuguet, Nicolas; Zanardi, Maurizio
    Abstract: One of the few stylized facts in international relations is that democracies, unlike autocracies, very rarely fight each other. We examine the sustainability of international peace between democracies and autocracies, where the crucial difference between these two political regimes is whether or not policymakers are subject to periodic elections. We show that the fear of losing office can deter democratic leaders from engaging in military conflicts. Crucially, this discipline effect can only be at work if incumbent leaders can be re-elected, implying that democracies in which the executives are subject to term limits should be more conflict prone. To assess the validity of our predictions, we construct a large dataset on countries with executive term limits. Our analysis of inter-state conflicts for the 1816-2001 period suggests that electoral incentives are indeed behind the democratic peace phenomenon: while democratic dyads are in general less likely to be involved in conflicts than any other dyads, this result does not hold for democracies in which the executive faces binding term limits; moreover, the dispute patterns of democracies with term limits depend on whether the executive is in the last or penultimate mandate.
    Keywords: Democratic Peace; Elections; Term Limits
    JEL: C72 D72 F00
    Date: 2008–07
  5. By: Pauline Grosjean; Claudia Senik
    Abstract: Using a new set of micro evidence from an original survey of 28 transition countries, we show that democracy increases citizens' support for the market by guaranteeing income redistribution to inequality-averse agents. Our identification strategy relies on the restriction of the sample to inhabitants of open borders between formerly integrated countries, where people face the same level of market development and economic inequality, as well as the same historically inherited politico-economic culture. Democratic rights increase popular support for the market. This is true, in particular, of inequality-averse agents, provided that they trust political institutions. Our findings suggest that one solution to the recent electoral backlash of reformist parties in the former socialist block lies in a deepening of democracy.
    Date: 2008
  6. By: Patrawart, Kraiyos
    Abstract: Recently, expectations have been raised on the civic participation role that requires supports from free press, decent average years in education attainment and independent juridical system in controlling corruption. Even so, questions have been put forward on how far this promising approach can go. This paper asks if these determinants are sufficient for fighting corruption through civic engagement. We propose that education in particular its distribution is the crucial tool for the majority of citizens to correctly acquire the key information and skills to succeed in their anti-corruption initiatives. This paper presents the simple reduced-form theoretical model which allows education inequality among agents before it employs the cross-national panel data estimations between 1990-2005 to evaluate the anti-corruption effect of education equality across the globe. Education equality significantly shows independent and complimentary anti-corruption effects through press freedom and the length of democracy. However, the anti-corruption effect of average years in education lost its robustness when education equality measures are included in fixed effects estimation.
    Keywords: Political Economy;Corruption; Distribution of Education; Factor Analysis
    JEL: O15 I21 D72
    Date: 2008–06–09
  7. By: Justina AV Fischer; Antonio Rodriguez-Andrés
    Abstract: The question to what extent governance structure affects people’s well-being, here reflected in the decision to commit suicide, remains still largely unknown. This paper examines the effects of political institutions and governance structure on suicide using a balanced panel for 26 Swiss states (cantons) over the period 1980–1998. Our results indicate that stronger popular rights and more fiscal decentralization reduce suicide, while more local autonomy increases it. The effects are not strongly gender-specific. However, we find evidence that the effect of direct legislation is partly transmitted through sub-federal budgets, but not through health sector spending exclusively.
    Keywords: Suicide, Direct democracy, Decentralization, Happiness, Well-being
    Date: 2008
  8. By: Christopher Lord
    Keywords: accountability; civil society; deliberative democracy; democracy; European Parliament; European Parliament; institutions; majority voting; national parliaments
    Date: 2008–07–15
  9. By: Robert Boyer
    Abstract: This article surveys some old and recent political economy research about the long term transformations and contemporary diversity in the mutual relationships between State, civil society and the economy. The hypothesis of institutional complementarity is extended from the institutional forms that sustain "regulation" modes to the analysis of the spill over from the polity to the economy and conversely from the economy to the polity. In spite of common challenges originating from individualization, globalization and financiarization, contrasted national trajectories for socio-economic and political regimes still coexist in contemporary world. The assessment of the relative merits of liberal capitalism, social-liberalism and renewed social-democracy suggests that the later regime is the best suited to limit the process of de-democratization to follow the concept coined by Charles Tilly in his 2007 book on "Democracy". Would social-democracy be the best rampart against the contemporary disenchantment about democracy? This unconventional hypothesis has to be mitigated by the fact that social-democracy "but also liberal democracy" cannot be imported as such. Its basic principles have to follow a process of hydridization according to various national traditions, let them be statist in France or meso-coporatist in Japan since the new demands from diverse civil societies have to be taken into account.
    Date: 2008
  10. By: Peter Grajzl (Department of Economics, Central European University); Peter Murrell (Department of Economics, University of Maryland)
    Abstract: AWe revisit the ubiquitous claim that aiding civil society improves institutional outcomes. In our model, a vibrant civil society initiates public debate in a reform process that would otherwise be dominated by partisan interest groups and politicians. By altering the incentives of interest groups submitting institutional reforms, civil society involvement sometimes solves adverse selection problems that arise because interest groups are better informed than politicians. Because aid increases the cost to the politician of excluding civil society, it affects institution-building. We show that the welfare implications of fostering civil society critically depend on the specifics of local politics, thereby casting new light on the experience of civil society aid in post-communist and developing countries. Our analysis uncovers a particularly disturbing instance of the tragedy that aid can be counter-productive where institutions are poor. An empirical application shows how the impact of civil society aid varies with the level of democracy.
    Keywords: civil society, institutional reform, civil society aid, interest groups, post-communist countries, developing countries
    JEL: D02 D78 F35 O19 P50
    Date: 2008–07
  11. By: Martin Halla (Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria); Friedrich Schneider (Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria); Alexander Wagner (Institute for Swiss Banking University of Zurich Plattenstrasse 14 CH-8032 Zurich Switzerland)
    Abstract: Using modern methods for analyzing multi-level data, we find that, by and large, citizens of OECD countries are more satisfied with the way democracy works in their country if more environmental policies are in place and if environmental quality is higher. We also document that parents care about carbon dioxide emissions more than non-parents and that those with a high willingness to pay for environmental quality deplore intervention through government policies.
    Keywords: Collective action problems, environmental economics and policy, satisfaction with democracy
    JEL: K32 P16 Q21 Q28
    Date: 2008–07
  12. By: Pivato, Marcus
    Abstract: Given a set of propositions with unknown truth values, a `judgement aggregation rule' is a way to aggregate the personal truth-valuations of a set of jurors into some `collective' truth valuation. We introduce the class of `quasimajoritarian' judgement aggregation rules, which includes majority vote, but also includes some rules which use different weighted voting schemes to decide the truth of different propositions. We show that if the profile of jurors' beliefs satisfies a condition called `value restriction', then the output of any quasimajoritarian rule is logically consistent; this directly generalizes the recent work of Dietrich and List (2007). We then provide two sufficient conditions for value-restriction, defined geometrically in terms of a lattice ordering or an ultrametric structure on the set of jurors and propositions. Finally, we introduce another sufficient condition for consistent majoritarian judgement aggregation, called `convexity'. We show that convexity is not logically related to value-restriction.
    Keywords: judgement aggregation; discursive dilemma; doctrinal paradox; epistemic democracy; value restriction
    JEL: D70
    Date: 2008–07–16
  13. By: Keith Blackburn (Department of Economics, University of Manchester); Gonzalo F. Forgues-Puccio (School of Economics and Finance, University of St Andrews)
    Abstract: We study the effect of international financial integration on economic development when the quality of governance may be compromised by corruption. Our analysis is based on a dynamic general equilibrium model of a small economy in which growth is driven by capital accumulation and public policy is administered by government-appointed bureaucrats. Corruption may arise due to the opportunity for bureaucrats to embezzle public funds, an opportunity that is made more attractive by financial liberalisation which, at the same time, raises efficiency in capital production. Our main results may be summarised as follows: (1) corruption is always bad for economic development, but its effect is worse if the economy is open than if it is closed; (2) the incidence of corruption may, itself, be affected by both the development and openness of the economy; (3) financial liberalisation is good for development when governance is good, but may be bad for development when governance is bad; and (4) corruption and poverty may co-exist as permanent, rather than just transitory, fixtures of an economy.
    Keywords: Corruption, development, financial liberalisation
    JEL: D73 F36 O11
    Date: 2008–06
  14. By: Chiswick, Barry R. (University of Illinois at Chicago); Miller, Paul W. (University of Western Australia)
    Abstract: This study develops and estimates a model of the naturalization process in the US. The model is based on both the characteristics of immigrants and features of their countries of origin. The empirical analysis is based on the 2000 US Census. Both the characteristics of immigrants and the origin-country variables are shown to be important determinants of citizenship status. The individual characteristics that have the most influence are educational attainment, age at migration, years since migration, veteran of the US armed forces, living with family, and spouses’ educational attainment. The country of origin variables of most importance are their degree of civil liberties and political rights, GDP per capita, whether the origin country recognizes dual citizenship, and the geographic distance of the origin country from the US.
    Keywords: immigrants, citizenship, country of origin, human capital
    JEL: I38 J15 J38 F22
    Date: 2008–07

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