nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2009‒07‒11
sixteen papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. Correcting Mistakes: Cognitive Dissonance and Political Attitudes in Sweden and the United States By Elinder, Mikael
  2. Faces of Politicians: Babyfacedness Predicts Inferred Competence but Not Electoral Success By Berggren, Niclas; Jordahl, Henrik; Poutvaara, Panu
  3. Elections and Deceptions: Theory and Experimental Evidence By Luca Corazzini; Sebastian Kube; Michel André Maréchal; Antonio Nicoló
  4. Candidate Stable Voting Rules for Separable Orderings By Kentaro Hatsumi
  5. Political Determinants of Economic Reforms in the Post-Communist Transition Countries By Staehr, Karsten; Tamazian, Artur; Vadlamannati, Krishna Chaitanya
  6. Ethnicity and Party Systems in Francophone Sub-Saharan Africa By Matthias Basedau; Alexander Stroh
  7. Endogenous Indoctrination: Occupational Choice, the Evolution of Beliefs, and the Political Economy of Reforms By SAINT-PAUL, Gilles
  8. A note on comparing median evaluations in single-peaked domains By Jean-François Laslier
  9. Vicious and virtuous circles--The political economy of unemployment By patrick Minford; Ruthira Naraidoo
  10. The political economy of relief aid allocation: evidence from Madagascar By Nathalie Francken; Bart Minten; Johan F.M. Swinnen
  11. The Role of Advisory Services in Proxy Voting By Cindy R. Alexander; Mark A. Chen; Duane J. Seppi; Chester S. Spatt
  12. He Who Counts Elects: Determinants of Fraud in the 1922 Colombian Presidential Election By Isaías N. Chaves; Leopoldo Fergusson; James A. Robinson
  13. Policy Bundling to Overcome Loss Aversion: A Method for Improving Legislative Outcomes By Katherine L. Milkman; Mary Carol Mazza; Lisa L. Shu; Chia-Jung Tsay; Max H. Bazerman
  14. Composition of Exports and Cross-Country Corruption By Goel, Rajeev K.; Korhonen, Iikka
  15. Is Demeny Voting the Answer to Low Fertility in Japan? By Aoki, Reiko; Vaithianathan, Rhema
  16. Politicians and soft budget constraints By Dalen, Dag Morten; Moen, Espen R.; Riis, Christian

  1. By: Elinder, Mikael (Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN))
    Abstract: Cognitive dissonance theory predicts that the act of voting makes people more positive toward the party or candidate they have voted for. Following Mullainathan and Washington (2009), I test this prediction by using exogenous variation in turnout provided by the voting age restriction. I improve on previous studies by investigating political attitudes, measured just before elections, when they are highly predictive of voting. In contrast to earlier studies I find no effect of voting on political attitudes. This result holds for a variety of political attitudes and for both Sweden and the United States.
    Keywords: Cognitive Dissonance; Voting; Elections; Political Attitudes
    JEL: B59 C21 D72
    Date: 2009–06–22
  2. By: Berggren, Niclas (Ratio); Jordahl, Henrik (Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN)); Poutvaara, Panu (University of Helsinki)
    Abstract: Recent research has documented that competent-looking political candidates do better in U.S. elections and that babyfaced individuals are generally perceived to be less competent than maturefaced individuals. Taken together, this suggests that babyfaced political candidates are perceived as less competent and therefore fare worse in elections. We test this hypothesis, making use of photograph-based judgments by 2,772 respondents of the facial appearance of 1,785 Finnish political candidates. Our results confirm that babyfacedness is negatively related to inferred competence in politics. Despite this, babyfacedness is either unrelated or positively related to electoral success, depending on the sample of candidates.
    Keywords: Babyfacedness; Competence; Beauty; Trustworthiness; Elections
    JEL: D72 J45 J70
    Date: 2009–06–26
  3. By: Luca Corazzini; Sebastian Kube; Michel André Maréchal; Antonio Nicoló
    Abstract: The virtue of democratic elections has traditionally been seen in their role as a means of screening and sanctioning shirking public officials. This paper proposes a novel rationale for elections and political campaigns by considering heterogeneity in candidates' aversion to lying. We analyze theoretically and experimentally how democratic elections and campaigns influence the behavior of voters and their representatives. Our main insight is that candidates behave more benevolently when democratically elected than when exogenously appointed. Moreover, the results show that candidates feel more obliged to serve the public interest the higher their approval ratings are. Together, our results suggest that electoral competition and campaigns confer benefits beyond their function as a screening and sanctioning device.
    Keywords: Costs of Lying, Electoral Competition, Laboratory Experiment
    JEL: D72 C92
    Date: 2009–07
  4. By: Kentaro Hatsumi
    Abstract: We consider the election model in which voters choose a subset from the set of candidates. Both voters and candidates are assumed to possess preferences with separable strict orderings. We investigate a rule satisfying candidate stability, which is the requirement to deter any candidate from strategic withdrawal. We show that a rule satisfies candidate stability if and only if it satisfies independence of the selection for each candidate.
    Date: 2009–04
  5. By: Staehr, Karsten; Tamazian, Artur; Vadlamannati, Krishna Chaitanya
    Abstract: This paper examines how political institutions and electoral outcomes have affected the economic reform process in the post-communist transition countries. Panel data estimations on annual data for 26 transition economies from 1992 to 2006 suggest that the institutional structure of the economy has been of importance, at least for the western-most transition countries. Democratisation and a relatively short exposure to communist rule have been conducive to economic reform, while the timing of elections and whether the government commands a majority in parliament appear to have been unimportant. Governments with right-wing ideology have implemented more market-economic reforms than governments with other ideologies. A high development level but also high inflation have proved conducive to reforms, while unemployment has had the opposite effect.
    Keywords: Economic reforms; political economy; political institutions; economic development
    JEL: P21 H11 P26
    Date: 2009–05–01
  6. By: Matthias Basedau (GIGA Institute of African Affairs); Alexander Stroh (GIGA Institute of African Affairs)
    Abstract: Despite earlier assumptions that ethnicity is a central feature of African party systems, there is little substantial evidence for this claim. The few studies with an empirical foundation rarely rely on individual data and are biased in favor of Anglophone Africa. This paper looks at four Francophone countries, drawing on four representative survey polls in Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger. Multivariate regression models and bivariate control tools reveal that ethnicity matters as a determinant of party preference, but that its impact is generally rather weak and differs with regard to party systems and individual parties. “Ethnic parties” in the strict sense are almost completely absent, and only the Beninese party system is substantially “ethnicized.” In particular, regional ties between voters and leaders—rather than ethnic affiliation alone—deserve attention in the future study of voting behavior in Africa.
    Keywords: political parties, ethnic groups, voting intentions, multivariate logistic regression
    Date: 2009–05
  7. By: SAINT-PAUL, Gilles
    Date: 2009–05
  8. By: Jean-François Laslier (Department of Economics, Ecole Polytechnique - CNRS : UMR7176 - Polytechnique - X)
    Abstract: In one-dimensional, single-peaked domains, the paper compares the MaxMedian voting scheme of Basset and Persky (Public Choice 99: 299- 310) with majority rule and the utilitarian criterion. The MaxMedian outcome is rejected by a majority of voters in favor of outcomes which are also utilitarian improvements.
    Date: 2009–06–22
  9. By: patrick Minford (Cardiff Business School, Aberconway Building, Cardiff University, Colum Drive, Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom, CF 10 3EU); Ruthira Naraidoo (Department of Economics, University of Pretoria)
    Abstract: We develop an empirical nonlinear model of equilibrium unemployment and test its policy implications for a number of OECD countries. The model here sees the natural rate and the associated equilibrium path of unemployment as endogenous, pushed by the interaction of shocks and the institutional structure of the economy; the channel through which these two forces feed on each other is a political economy process whereby voters with 'limited information' on the natural rate of unemployment react to shocks by demanding more or less social protection. The reduced form results from a dozen OECD economies give support to the model prediction of a pattern of unemployment behaviour in which unemployment moves between high and low equilibria in response to shocks and the model specification is superior in forecasting performance out of sample to alternative models of `generalised hysteresis'.
    Keywords: Equilibrium unemployment, political economy, vicious and virtuous circles, bootstrapping, forecasting
    JEL: E24 E27 P16
    Date: 2009–06
  10. By: Nathalie Francken; Bart Minten; Johan F.M. Swinnen
    Abstract: This paper studies the political economy of relief aid allocation using empirical evidence from relief programs after a major cyclone (Gafilo) hit Madagascar in March 2004. Relief was provided by the Government of Madagascar as well as local and international aid agencies. Aid allocation was generally more likely in areas with a higher need for aid, but there were substantial differences between aid allocation by the government and by international aid agencies. The likelihood of receiving aid from the government was higher in cyclone-affected communes with higher radio coverage and with stronger political support for the government. Relief from aid agencies was not affected by media or political factors but was more likely to go to poorer and easier accessible communes, whether or not they were affected by the cyclone.
    Keywords: political economy, natural disasters, aid, Madagascar, Africa
    Date: 2009
  11. By: Cindy R. Alexander; Mark A. Chen; Duane J. Seppi; Chester S. Spatt
    Abstract: This paper studies the information content and consequences of third-party voting advice issued during proxy contests. We document significant abnormal stock returns around proxy vote recommendations and develop an estimation procedure for disentangling stock price effects due to changes in outcome probabilities from those due to changes in outcome-contingent valuations. We find that voting advice is a good predictor of contest outcomes and that vote recommendations appear to certify the extent to which dissidents can add value. Thus, proxy advice seems to play a dual informational role in financial markets.
    JEL: G20 G24 G30 G34
    Date: 2009–07
  12. By: Isaías N. Chaves; Leopoldo Fergusson; James A. Robinson
    Abstract: This paper constructs measures of the extent of ballot stuffing (fraudulent votes) and electoral coercion at the municipal level using data from Colombia.s 1922 Presidential elections. Our main findings are that the presence of the state reduced the extent of ballot stuffing, but that of the clergy, which was closely imbricated in partisan politics, increased coercion. We also show that landed elites to some extent substituted for the absence of the state and managed to reduce the extent of fraud where they were strong. At the same time, in places which were completely out of the sphere of the state, and thus partisan politics, both ballot stuffing and coercion were relatively low. Thus the relationship between state presence and fraud is not monotonic.
    JEL: H0
    Date: 2009–07
  13. By: Katherine L. Milkman (The University of Pennsylvania); Mary Carol Mazza (Harvard Business School, Negotiation, Organizations and Markets Unit); Lisa L. Shu (Harvard Business School, Organizational Behavior Unit); Chia-Jung Tsay (Harvard Business School, Negotiation, Organizations and Markets Unit); Max H. Bazerman (Harvard Business School, Negotiation, Organizations and Markets Unit)
    Abstract: Policies that would create net benefits for society but would also involve costs frequently lack the necessary support to be enacted because losses loom larger than gains psychologically. To reduce this harmful consequence of loss aversion, we propose a new type of policy bundling technique in which related bills that have both costs and benefits are combined. Using a laboratory study, we confirm across a set of four legislative domains that this bundling technique increases support for bills that have both costs and benefits. We also demonstrate that this effect is due to changes in the psychology of decision making, rather than voters' willingness to compromise and support a bill they weakly oppose when that bill is bundled with one they strongly support.
    Date: 2009–06
  14. By: Goel, Rajeev K. (BOFIT); Korhonen, Iikka (BOFIT)
    Abstract: This research examines the connection between a country’s export structure and corruption, incorporating disaggregated data on exports for a recent time period over a large set of nations. We ask whether various types of exports (e.g. agricultural, mineral, manufacturing and fuel) exert similar influences on corruption across nations. Our results suggest that corruption decreases as nations attain prosperity, as economic and political freedoms increase, and with a larger government size. Ceteris paribus, transition countries are also found to be more corrupt. Ethnic and linguistic fractionalizations exert opposite influences on corruption, while religious fractionalization does not seem to matter. Although the effects of ore and manufacturing exports are statistically insignificant, agricultural and fuel exports affect corruption significantly. Our findings for fuel exports support previous research, as well as uniquely demonstrate that the impact of fuel exports is sensitive to the prevailing corruption level. We conclude with a discussion of policy implications.
    Keywords: corruption; exports; resource curse; government
    JEL: H11 K42 O13
    Date: 2009–07–01
  15. By: Aoki, Reiko; Vaithianathan, Rhema
    Abstract: Japan has the oldest population in the world, and experienced an unprecedented decrease in fertility rates during the post-war period. Despite the well recognized need to provide pronatalist policies, Japan lags behind other developed countries in the generosity of its family benefits. Part of the reason for this is the large voting bloc presented by those in, or close to, retirement, and the weak political power of parents and children. We argue that to reverse the trend, Japan should introduce a Demeny Voting rule, which allows parents to vote on behalf of their children. Such a change would signal a commitment to ongoing generous family policies which in turn would increase fertility.
    Date: 2009–06
  16. By: Dalen, Dag Morten (BI Norwegian School of Management); Moen, Espen R. (BI Norwegian School of Management); Riis, Christian (BI Norwegian School of Management)
    Abstract: We study soft budget constraints from the perspective of political economics. A partly partisan government confronts a budget crisis in a politically important sector, e.g. like the health care sector. To what extent the government wants to make additional grants to the sector depends on economic conditions and on the preferences of the government, both unknown to the electorate. Thus, the government’s budget response gives a signal of its preferences, and may thereby influence the probability that the government is re-elected. As a result, the handeling of a budget crisis becomes inefficient even from an ex post point of view, in the sense that it does not react adequately to changing economic conditions.
    Keywords: Political economics; budget constraints; budget crisis
    JEL: I18
    Date: 2009–06–30

This nep-pol issue is ©2009 by Eugene Beaulieu. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.