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

  1. Electoral Participation and Communicative Voting in Europe By Sobbrio, Francesco; Navarra, Pietro
  2. Endogenous Choice of Electoral Rules in a Multi-party System with Two Dominant Parties By Xefteris, Dimitrios; Matakos, Kostas
  3. 60 Jahre Grundgesetz der Bundesrepublik Deutschland: Einige Bemerkungen zu Demokratie und Föderalismus in Deutschland aus schweizerischer Perspektive By Gebhard Kirchgässner
  4. Political institutions and central bank independence revisited By Davide Ferrari; Barbara Pistoresi; Francesco Salsano
  5. Eliciting Individual Preferences for Pension Reform By Abid Fourati, Yosr; O'Donoghue, Cathal
  6. Institutions and Economic Outcomes: A Dominance Based Analysis of Causality and Multivariate Welfare With Discrete and Continuous Variables By Gordon Anderson; Kinda Hachem
  7. Religion, Clubs, and Emergent Social Divides By Michael D. Makowsky

  1. By: Sobbrio, Francesco; Navarra, Pietro
    Abstract: This paper provides an empirical investigation of electoral participation and communicative voting in 14 European countries. We estimate a multi-level voting process where individuals face a participation decision (whether to vote or abstain) and a voting decision (whether to vote strategically for a likely winner party or as communicating for a sure loser party). Our main findings can be summarized as follows. First, individuals who are either independent or uninformed are less likely to turnout. However, being both independent and uninformed does not have any statistically significant effect on electoral participation. Thus, our results question the empirical relevance of the swing voter's curse theory in large elections. Second, the probability of voting as communicating is positively related with the level of education and the degree of dissatisfaction with the political system. Finally, political preferences and institutional features characterizing the functioning of the political system and of the media market have a significant effect both on electoral participation and on the voting decision.
    Keywords: Electoral turnout; Swing Voter's Curse; Communicative voting; Strategic voting; Multi-level qualitative choices
    JEL: D72 C25
    Date: 2009–10
  2. By: Xefteris, Dimitrios (University of Cyprus); Matakos, Kostas (University of Warwick)
    Abstract: We develop a model of endogenous choice of electoral rules in a multiparty system with two dominant parties, in an environment of uncertainty about the outcome of the election. Using quasi-lexicographic preferences over the number of seats necessary for a party to form a single-party government we explore the choice of the electoral law by the parties. We show that the minor parties never agree to an electoral reform that distorts the Proportional Representation system (PR). We also show that when the electoral competition among the two dominant parties is non-trivial there exists a unique and stable equilibrium: a unique new electoral rule is being adapted by the parliament in substitution of the PR rule. That is we show that when uncertainty about the outcome of the elections is present and if the dominant parties have a strong desire for single-party governments then strategic incentives to collude between them and distort the PR rule kick in. Hence, by colluding they also increase the probability that the winner will form a single-party government. The paper in e¤ect shows that under an uncertain political environment the two dominant parties have an incentive to collude in favour of stability (single-party governments) by eliminating the e¤ect of the third party in the formation of government. To conclude we also show that the equilibrium with the above characteristic is also unique. In an extension we use the timing of the electoral reform as a strategic variable.
    Date: 2009
  3. By: Gebhard Kirchgässner
    Abstract: In comparing Switzerland and Germany, this paper discusses basic but potentially conflicting constitutional principles and the problems which can arise from such conflicts and which have to be handled by a constitution. We concentrate on three central areas: (i) the tension between democracy and the rule of law, (ii) direct versus (purely) representative democracy, and (iii) competitive versus co-operative federalism, where we also discuss problems of fiscal equalisation systems. Finally, we present some proposals for a reform of the German political system.
    Keywords: Direct Democracy, Human Rights, Rule of Law, Federalism, Fiscal Equalisation
    JEL: H11 H70
    Date: 2009–10
  4. By: Davide Ferrari; Barbara Pistoresi; Francesco Salsano
    Abstract: We build on earlier studies regarding Central Bank independence (CBI) by relating it to political, institutional and economic variables. The data suggest that CBI is positively related to the presence of federalism, the features of the electoral system and parties, the correlation between the shocks to the level of economic activity in the countries included in the sample and, for a sub-sample of economies, the convergence criteria to join the European Monetary Union (EMU).
    Keywords: ICentral Bank independence; institutional systems; variable selection
    JEL: E5
    Date: 2009–07
  5. By: Abid Fourati, Yosr (National University of Ireland, Galway); O'Donoghue, Cathal (Teagasc Rural Economy Research Centre)
    Abstract: Pension systems have recently been under scrutiny because of the expected population ageing threatening its sustainability. This paper's contribution to the debate is from a political economic perspective as it uses data from a choice experiment to investigate individual preferences for an alternative state pension scheme based around preferences for cost, poverty, retirement age and pension parameters. Answers are used to estimate a lifecycle utility model of preferences towards pensions' parameters. Results suggest that individuals’ value orientation is an important determinant of their preferences. Respondents' income determines which degree of redistribution is preferred. However, preferences according to age are in contradiction with what is suggested in theory.
    Keywords: redistribution, pension system reform, population ageing, stated preferences
    JEL: H0 I3
    Date: 2009–10
  6. By: Gordon Anderson; Kinda Hachem
    Abstract: One of the central issues in welfare economics is the measurement of overall wellbeing and, to this end, the interaction between institutions (polity) and growth is paramount. Individual welfare depends on both economic and political factors but the continuous nature of economic variables combined with the discrete nature of political ones renders conventional multivariate techniques problematic. In this paper, we propose a multivariate dominance test based on the comparison of mixtures of continuous and discrete distributions to examine changes in welfare. Our results suggest that, while economic growth exerted a positive impact from 1960 to 2000, declines in polity over the earlier part of this period were sufficient to produce a decline in overall wellbeing until the mid-1970s. Subsequent increases in polity then reversed the trend and, ultimately, wellbeing in 2000 was higher than that in 1960. To be sure, economic and political variables are correlated and, based on the dominance of polity in our multivariate results, we conjecture that this correlation is predominantly due to a causal link from polity to growth. While the development literature is rife with debates over whether it is institutions that cause growth or growth that causes institutions, we argue that the relevant question is not which hypothesis is correct but, rather, which hypothesis dominates. Since standard regression techniques have difficulty capturing non-linear dependence, especially when one of the variables is an index with limited variation, we propose a causality dominance test to examine this aspect of the growth-institutions nexus and indeed find evidence that the causal effects of polity on growth dominate those of growth on polity, particularly when the data are population weighted.
    Keywords: Growth, Polity, Causality, Multivariate Wellbeing
    JEL: I3 O4
    Date: 2009–10–23
  7. By: Michael D. Makowsky (Department of Economics, Towson University)
    Abstract: Arguments for and against the existence of an American cultural divide are frequently placed in a religious context. This paper seeks to establish that, all politics aside, the American religious divide is real, that modern religious polarization is not a uniquely American phenomenon, and that religious divides can be understood as naturally emergent within the club theory of religion. Analysis of the 2005 Baylor University Religion Survey reveals a bimodal distribution of religious commitment in the United States. International survey data reveals bimodal distributions in twenty-five of twenty-nine surveyed countries. The club theory of religion, when applied in a multi-agent model, generates bimodal distributions of religious commitment whose emergence correlates to the substitutability of club goods for standard goods and the mean population wage rate. This tendency towards religious polarization has important ramifications for majority rule electoral outcomes when religion is politically salient. Majority rule, principally analogous to the statistical median, is a non-robust estimator of voter preferences when they are bimodally distributed. Given recent evidence that religiosity has come to dominate income as a determinant of voter preferences, small errors can be anticipated to disproportionately affect electoral outcomes in the U.S.
    Keywords: Culture Divide, Religious Divide, Club Theory, Multi-Agent Model, Sacrifice and Stigma
    Date: 2009–09

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.