nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2009‒10‒03
ten papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. Beautiful Politicians By Amy King; Andrew Leigh
  3. Election Results and Opportunistic Policies: A New Test of the Rational Political Business Cycle Model By Aidt, T.S.; Veiga, F.J.; Veiga, L.G.
  4. Pre-Electoral Coalitions and Post-Election Bargaining By Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay; Kalyan Chatterjee; Tomas Sjostrom
  5. Vote-Share Contracts and Learning-by-Doing By Markus Müller
  6. Short-term Deviations from Simple Majority Voting By Theresa Fahrenberger
  7. Education and elections: a comparative analysis of party manifestos in OECD countries By Jakobi, Anja P.
  8. Demand for Redistribution, Support for the Welfare State, and Party Identification in Austria By Andreas Kuhn
  9. The effects of political reservations for women on local governance and rural service provision: By Raabe, Katharina; Sekher, Madhushree; Birner, Regina
  10. Does Democracy Explain Gender Differentials in Education? By Arusha Cooray;

  1. By: Amy King; Andrew Leigh
    Abstract: Are beautiful politicians more likely to be elected? To test this, we use evidence from Australia, a country in which voting is compulsory, and in which voters are given ‘How to Vote’ cards depicting photos of the major party candidates as they arrive to vote. Using raters chosen to be representative of the electorate, we assess the beauty of political candidates from major political parties, and then estimate the effect of beauty on voteshare for candidates in the 2004 federal election. Beautiful candidates are indeed more likely to be elected, with a one standard deviation increase in beauty associated with a 1½ – 2 percentage point increase in voteshare. Our results are robust to several specification checks: adding party fixed effects, dropping well-known politicians, using non-Australian beauty raters, omitting candidates of non-Anglo Saxon appearance, controlling for age, and analyzing the ‘beauty gap’ between candidates running in the same electorate. The marginal effect of beauty is larger for male candidates than for female candidates, and appears to be approximately linear. Consistent with the theory that returns to beauty reflect discrimination, we find suggestive evidence that beauty matters more in electorates with a higher share of apathetic voters.
    Keywords: economics of beauty, elections, voter rationality, information shortcuts, thin slices
    JEL: D72 J45 J71
    Date: 2009–08
  2. By: Pereira, Carlos; Kuhl Teles, Vladimir
    Abstract: This manuscript empirically assesses the effects of political institutions on economic growth. It analyzes how political institutions affect economic growth in different stages of democratization and economic development by means of dynamic panel estimation with interaction terms. The new empirical results obtained show that political institutions work as a substitute for democracy promoting economic growth. In other words, political institutions are important for increasing economic growth, mainly when democracy is not consolidated. Moreover, political institutions are extremely relevant to economic outcomes in periods of transition to democracy and in poor countries with high ethnical fractionalization.
    Date: 2009–09–03
  3. By: Aidt, T.S.; Veiga, F.J.; Veiga, L.G.
    Abstract: The literature on the rational political business cycle suggests that politicians systematically manipulate economic and fiscal conditions before elections to increase their chance of gaining reelection. Most tests of this theory look for evidence of pre- election distortions in fiscal policy. We propose a new test that, instead, explores the implied two-way interaction between the magnitude of the opportunistic distortion and the margin of victory. The test is implemented using a panel of 278 Portuguese municipalities (from 1979 to 2005). The results show that (1) opportunism pays off, leading to a larger win-margin for the incumbent; (2) incumbents behave more opportunistically when their win-margin is small. These results are consistent with the theoretical model.
    Keywords: Voting and popularity functions, opportunism, rational political business cycles, local government, system estimation, Portugal
    JEL: D72 E32 H72
    Date: 2009–09–24
  4. By: Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay; Kalyan Chatterjee; Tomas Sjostrom
    Abstract: Pre-electoral coalitions occur frequently in parliamentary democracies. They influence post election coalition formation and surplus division. We study a game theoretic model where political parties can form coalitions both before (ex ante) and after (ex post) the elections. Ex ante coalitions can commit to a seat-sharing arrangement, but neither to a policy nor to a division of rents from office; coalition members are even free to break up and join other coalitions after the election. Equilibrium ex ante coalitions are not necessarily made up of the most ideologically similar parties, and they form under (national list) proportional representation as well as plurality rule. They do not form just to avoid "splitting the vote", but also because seat-sharing arrangements will influence the ex post bargaining and coalition formation. The ex post bargaining protocol matters greatly: there is more scope for coalition formation, both ex ante and ex post, under an Austen-Smith and Banks protocol than under "random recognition".
    Keywords: Ex ante coalition, ex post bargaining
    JEL: C72 D72 H19
    Date: 2009–09
  5. By: Markus Müller (CER-ETH - Center of Economic Research at ETH Zurich, Switzerland)
    Abstract: We examine the interaction between vote-share contracts and learning-by-doing. Candidates for a political office are allowed to offer vote-share thresholds. The elected politician has to achieve at least this threshold value in his reelection result to remain in office for a second term. We assume there are learningby- doing effects for incumbents and show that competition leads to vote-share contracts implementing the socially optimal threshold, which is above one-half. Vote-share contracts improve the average ability level of a reelected politician and increase effort in the first term of an incumbent. On the other hand, vote-share contracts reduce the probability that learning-by-doing takes place. However, the overall effect of vote-share contracts is welfare-enhancing, even under the assumption of learning-by-doing.
    Keywords: elections, political contracts, vote-share thresholds, learning-by-doing effects, incumbency advantage
    JEL: D82 H4
    Date: 2009–07
  6. By: Theresa Fahrenberger (CER-ETH - Center of Economic Research at ETH Zurich, Switzerland)
    Abstract: I discuss instances where a committee wants to deviate from the simple majority rule by adopting an alternative voting scheme for two consecutive binary ballots. The alternative voting rule, called Minority Voting as an Exception (MVE), works as follows: In the first ballot a b-majority rule is used, where b < 1/2 is equal to the minority fraction that favors some project, say project 1. This allows the minority to induce the adoption of project 1. After the first ballot all voting winners, i.e. the minority of project winners, lose their voting rights for the upcoming second ballot, where the simple majority rule is used. Hence, MVE may benefit both project losers and winners and may thus be unanimously accepted. The analysis of this short-term deviation is presented with a potential application in the sphere of communal politics.
    Keywords: voting, minority, communal politics
    JEL: D7
    Date: 2009–07
  7. By: Jakobi, Anja P.
    Abstract: New institutionalism has repeatedly shown that education has become a common institution in current world society, but so far parties have not been the subject of inquiry. This is surprising, given the fact that institutionalization processes relevant to politics should be well observable in political statements. In this article, I compare the political aim to expand educational opportunities in party manifestos of 25 OECD countries. The research question is whether or not there are significant differences in favoring educational expansion over time, across countries and political positions. The article is structured as follows: In a first step, I present the theoretical background of new institutionalism, concluding with three hypotheses related to political parties and educational expansion: We should be able to observe a growing consensus on educational expansion over time; we should able to observe this development across countries; and we should be able to observe such institutionalization in manifestos with different political positions. In a second step, I present data and methods. In the third to fifth steps, I test each of the hypotheses, differentiating the institutionalization of education over time, across countries and across different political wings. The results strongly support the theoretical assumption of new institutionalism. ; Neo-institutionalistische Arbeiten haben wiederholt nachgewiesen, dass Bildung ein wesentlicher Bestandteil einer Weltkultur ist. Während die meisten dieser Analysen vorrangig auf den gesellschaftlichen Wandel auf der Individualebene oder auf die Formulierung nationaler Bildungsgrundsätze fokussierten, untersucht dieses Arbeitspapier mögliche Effekte auf Parteiprogramme. Die grundlegende Annahme ist, dass Institutionalisierungseffekte von Weltkultur spezifischer: die Befürwortung von Bildungsmaßnahmen sich auch in diesen programmatischen Dokumenten nachweisen lassen müssten. Dazu analysiere ich hier quantitativ 25 Länder der OECD-Welt im Hinblick auf Unterschiede über Zeit, über Länder oder zwischen politischen Richtungen. Das Papier ist wie folgt aufgebaut: Zunächst präsentiere ich den theoretischen Hintergrund des Neo-Institutionalismus und leite daraus drei Hypothesen ab, die für Parteiprogramme relevant sind: Es sollte ein zunehmender Konsens hinsichtlich der Befürwortung von Bildungsmaßnahmen sichtbar werden, es sollten dabei keine signifikanten nationalen Unterschiede deutlich werden, und diese Befürwortung sollte in verschiedenen politischen Lagern sichtbar werden. In einem nächsten Abschnitt präsentiere ich die verwendeten Daten das Manifesto-Dataset und die Methoden dieser Untersuchung. In drei weiteren Schritten teste ich dann jeweils die aufgestellten Hypothesen. Die Ergebnisse zeigen, dass in der Tat ein zunehmender Konsens im Hinblick auf Bildung besteht: Das Thema wird über Zeit insgesamt wichtiger, und dies fast ungeachtet der Länder und politischen Richtungen, wenngleich einige Differenzen bestehen bleiben.
    Date: 2009
  8. By: Andreas Kuhn
    Abstract: This paper describes subjective wage inequality and the demand for redistribution in Austria using individuals' estimates of occupational wages from the International Social Survey Program. Although these estimates differ widely across individuals, the data clearly show that most individuals would like to decrease wage inequality, relative to the level of inequality which they perceive to exist. The empirical analysis also shows that the demand for redistribution is strongly associated not only with variables describing self-interested motives for redistribution, but also with perceptions of and social norms with respect to inequality. Further, the demand for redistribution is a strong predictor for whether an individual is supportive of redistribution by the state. On the other hand, however, I find almost no evidence for an empirical association between the demand for redistribution and individuals' party identification.
    Keywords: Subjective inequality measures, demand for redistribution, support for the welfare state, party identification
    JEL: D31 D63 H50
    Date: 2009–09
  9. By: Raabe, Katharina; Sekher, Madhushree; Birner, Regina
    Abstract: "In 1993, India introduced quota-based political reservations for women in rural areas with the objective to promote gender equality in human development by making rural service provision and local governance inclusive and responsive to the needs of women. Recent evidence shows that reservation policies for women (1) stimulate the political participation of women in rural areas, (2) shift rural service provision to public goods that reflect gender preferences, and (3) improve the access to and the quality of public services. Despite the suggested positive effects of women's reservation policies on service provision and local governance, the gender bias in human development is still pronounced. This casts doubt on the effectiveness of reservation policies as an instrument for making rural service provision and local governance more gender equitable and raises questions about the nature and direction of the major constraints. This paper aims to qualify and quantify the role of political reservation policies for women as a determinant of rural service provision and local governance and seeks to identify the social, economic, and institutional factors that constrain effective local governance and rural service provision beyond the women's reservation effect. Our empirical sample consists of 80 Gram Panchayats (GP) and 966 households in 12 districts in Karnataka in 2006. In contrast to the main existing literature, the empirical evidence from (non-)linear probability models lends weak support to the existence of gender effects of reservation policies on local governance and rural service provision. The local governance and service delivery outcomes are predominantly determined by social, economic, and institutional factors that are unrelated to women's reservation requirements. For example, (1) individual characteristics such as literacy, household institutional and political linkages, or the household location in the GP and (2) GP-specific factors such as the degree of community involvement in service provision and the fiscal devolution of activities are more likely to have a significant effect on service provision and governance than reservation policies for women. These results suggest that women's reservation policies per se are insufficient means for making rural service provision and local governance more inclusive and gender equitable. In addition, it appears that gender-integrated policy approaches that are targeted at both women and men are needed." from authors' abstract
    Keywords: Gender, Decentralization, Local governance, Rural service provision, Affirmative action, Governance, Women,
    Date: 2009
  10. By: Arusha Cooray;
    Abstract: This study shows that despite a strong empirical association between gender differentials in enrolment ratios and democracy, that democracy alone does not explain gender differentials in education in Africa and Asia. The results indicate that income, employment in agriculture, religious heterogeneity and colonialism also help explain the under-representation of girls in education in these regions. Countries in which the duration of suffrage has been longer, tend to perform better on average in terms of gender equality in education.
    JEL: O11 O15 O43 O57
    Date: 2009–08

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