nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2009‒12‒05
eight papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. The Road to Power: Partisan Loyalty and the Centralized Provision of Local Infrastructure By Marcelin Joanis
  2. The Effect of Newspaper Entry and Exit on Electoral Politics By Matthew Gentzkow; Jesse M. Shapiro; Michael Sinkinson
  3. Democratic Peace and Electoral Accountability By Paola Conconi; Nicolas Sahuguet; Maurizio Zanardi
  4. The Determinants of State-Level Antitrust Enforcement By Robert M. Feinberg; Kara M. Reynolds
  5. Voluntary Public Goods Provision, Coalition Formation, and Uncertainty By Nicholas E. Burger; Charles D. Kolstad
  6. Do Working Men Rebel? Insurgency and Unemployment in Iraq and the Philippines By Eli Berman; Joseph Felter; Jacob N. Shapiro
  7. Career Concerns in a Political Hierarchy: A Case of Regional Leaders in Soviet Russia By Andrei Markevich; Ekaterina Zhuravskaya
  8. Corruption, Governance and FDI Location in China: A Province-Level Analysis By Matthew A Cole; Robert J R Elliott; Jing Zhang

  1. By: Marcelin Joanis
    Abstract: This paper sets out a simple dynamic probabilistic voting model in which a government allocates a fixed budget across electoral districts that differ in their loyalty to the ruling party. The model predicts that the geographic pattern of spending depends on the way the government balances long-run ‘machine politics’ considerations and the more immediate concern to win over swing voters. Empirical results obtained from a panel of electoral districts in Québec provide robust evidence that districts which display loyalty to the incumbent government receive disproportionately more spending, especially close to an election, at odds with the standard ‘swing voter’ view. <P>Cet article développe un modèle dynamique simple de vote probabiliste dans lequel un gouvernement répartit un budget fixe entre des circonscriptions électorales qui diffèrent selon leur degré de loyauté au parti au pouvoir. Le modèle prédit que la répartition géographique des dépenses dépend de la manière dont le gouvernement assure l’équilibre entre des considérations de long terme de type « machine électorale » et des considérations plus immédiates de victoire dans les circonscriptions pivot. Des résultats empiriques obtenus à partir d’un panel de circonscriptions électorales au Québec montrent que les circonscriptions qui sont loyales au parti au pouvoir reçoivent plus que leur part de dépenses, particulièrement à l’approche d’une élection, contrairement à la vision théorique traditionnelle prédisant plus de dépenses dans les circonscriptions pivot.
    Keywords: partisan loyalty, swing voters, political competition, local public goods, distributive politics, long-run relationships. , loyauté partisane, électeurs pivot, concurrence électorale, biens publics locaux, clientélisme politique, relations de long terme.
    JEL: D72 H41 H54
    Date: 2009–11–01
  2. By: Matthew Gentzkow; Jesse M. Shapiro; Michael Sinkinson
    Abstract: We use new data on entries and exits of US daily newspapers from 1869 to 2004 to estimate effects on political participation, party vote shares, and electoral competitiveness. Our identification strategy exploits the precise timing of these events and allows for the possibility of confounding trends. We find that newspapers have a robust positive effect on political participation, with one additional newspaper increasing both presidential and congressional turnout by approximately 0.3 percentage points. Newspaper competition is not a key driver of turnout: our effect is driven mainly by the first newspaper in a market, and the effect of a second or third paper is significantly smaller. The effect on presidential turnout diminishes after the introduction of radio and television, while the estimated effect on congressional turnout remains similar up to recent years. We find no evidence that partisan newspapers affect party vote shares, with confidence intervals that rule out even moderate-sized effects. We find no clear evidence that newspapers systematically help or hurt incumbents.
    JEL: D72 L82 N81
    Date: 2009–11
  3. By: Paola Conconi; Nicolas Sahuguet; Maurizio Zanardi
    Date: 2009–11–21
  4. By: Robert M. Feinberg; Kara M. Reynolds
    Abstract: While there has been a considerable literature exploring determinants of antitrust enforcement in the United States, studies have been based either on aggregate federal enforcement data over time (exploring cyclical influences) or cross-industry studies, usually for a single year or aggregated over several years. What has never been investigated is the pattern of state-level antitrust. This is somewhat surprising, as this has been a major activity of many state Attorneys General. In this paper, we explain state antitrust enforcement across states and time (for a 15-year period), examining a number of economic and political determinants which have been proposed in the literature.
    Keywords: antitrust enforcement
    JEL: L44
    Date: 2009–09
  5. By: Nicholas E. Burger; Charles D. Kolstad
    Abstract: The literature on voluntary provision of public goods includes recent theoretical work on the formation of voluntary coalitions to provide public goods. Theory is ambiguous on the equilibrium coalition size and contribution rates. We examine the emergence of coalitions, their size, and how uncertainty in public goods provision affects contribution levels and coalition size. We find that contributions decrease when public good returns are uncertain but increase when individuals can form a coalition to provide the good. Contrary a core theoretical result, we find that coalition size increases when the public good benefits are higher. Uncertainty has no effect on coalition size.
    JEL: C7 C91 C92 H23 H4 H41 Q5 Q54
    Date: 2009–11
  6. By: Eli Berman; Joseph Felter; Jacob N. Shapiro
    Abstract: Most aid spending by governments seeking to rebuild social and political order is based on an opportunity-cost theory of distracting potential recruits. The logic is that gainfully employed young men are less likely to participate in political violence, implying a positive correlation between unemployment and violence in places with active insurgencies. We test that prediction on insurgencies in Iraq and the Philippines, using survey data on unemployment and two newly- available measures of insurgency: (1) attacks against government and allied forces; and (2) violence that kills civilians. Contrary to the opportunity-cost theory, we find a robust negative correlation between unemployment and attacks against government and allied forces and no significant relationship between unemployment and the rate of insurgent attacks that kill civilians.
    JEL: F51 F52 H4 H56 J6 O12 O53
    Date: 2009–11
  7. By: Andrei Markevich (New Economic School and the University of Warwick); Ekaterina Zhuravskaya (New Economic School, CEFIR and CEPR)
    Abstract: We study the nature of career concerns of regional leaders in Soviet Russia under Khrushchev and Brezhnev. We document a substantial over-time variation in career concerns associated with reforms of Soviet governing hierarchy. We demonstrate that Khrushchev’s “Sovnarkhoz” system—a unique episode in Soviet history, when a traditional Soviet unitary-form (U-form) hierarchy was replaced by a multidivisional-form (M-form) organization—created yardstick competition in industrial performance of regional leaders. High-powered career incentives, however, did not result in faster industrial growth on average. We find that only two groups of regional leaders performed better in response to increased incentives. 1) Leaders appointed during “Sovnarkhoz” were able to learn new rules better. 2) Leaders with good connections to their neighbors were able to overcome negative inter-regional externalities, a common byproduct of M-form. The lack of success of the “Sovnarkhoz” system triggered the separation of regional units along production branch lines, which, as we show, led to a substantial decrease of industrial growth rates. The failure of Khrushchev's management reforms together with the U-form lobby contributed to his dismissal and reinstatement of the U-form hierarchy under Brezhnev.
    Keywords: Career Concerns, Political Hierarchy, Yardstick Competition, Soviet Economy
    JEL: D73 H7 J63 N44 P3
    Date: 2009–11
  8. By: Matthew A Cole; Robert J R Elliott; Jing Zhang
    Abstract: China's rapid growth in recent years has been matched by large increases in exports and foreign direct investment (FDI). However, within China considerable regional disparities in FDI flows exist. In this paper we use detailed province level data for China to examine the determinants of intra-country FDI flows. Specifically, we investigate whether FDI is attracted to those regions that exhibit good governance and are most strongly engaged in the fight against corruption. We first construct proxies for provincial government efficiency and the extent of a region's anti-corruption effort. Our subsequent regression results confirm that FDI is attracted to provinces with relatively high levels of government efficiency and those that are actively involved in the fight against corruption.
    Keywords: FDI, corruption, governance
    JEL: O13 L60 Q21 Q25 Q28
    Date: 2009–11

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