nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2010‒02‒05
five papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. Choosing between Parliamentary and Presidential Governments. By Claudio Parés
  2. Bases, Bullets, and Ballots: The Effect of U.S. Military Aid on Political Conflict in Colombia By Oeindrila Dube; Suresh Naidu
  3. Partisan politics in corporate tax competition By Osterloh, Steffen; Debus, Marc
  4. Is it reasonable to allocate power to appointed regional authorities? By Claudio Parés
  5. Reproductive Health and the Millennium Development Goals: Politics, Ethics, Evidence and an ‘Unholy Alliance’ By David Hulme

  1. By: Claudio Parés (Departamento de Economía, Universidad de Concepción)
    Abstract: Parliamentary and presidential systems dffer in the way citizens elect politicians in the executive power. In the first case they do it indirectly through the legislative power and in the second they do it directly. The main consequence of this is that ticket-splitting and divided governments appear in a presidential system. This may be seen as a problem or a opportunity by citizens because the trade-off between the loses in the political political bargainning process generated by cohabitation and the benefit of moderating the policy of extremist parties. This paper captures these features and compares both systems from a constitutional stage, i.e. when choosing ex ante what system to adopt from the standpoint of both citizens and political parties.
    Date: 2009
  2. By: Oeindrila Dube; Suresh Naidu
    Abstract: Does foreign military assistance strengthen or further weaken fragile states facing internal confict? We address this question by estimating how U.S. military aid affects violence and electoral participation in Colombia. We exploit the allocation of U.S. military aid to Colombian military bases, and compare how aid affects municipalities with and without bases. Using detailed political violence data, we find that U.S. military aid leads to differential increases in attacks by paramilitaries (who collude with the military), but has no effect on guerilla attacks. Aid increases also result in more paramilitary (but not guerrilla) homicides during election years. Moreover, when military aid rises, voter turnout falls more in base municipalities, especially those that are politically contested. Our results are robust to an instrument based on worldwide increases in U.S. military aid (excluding Latin America). The findings suggest that foreign military assistance may strengthen armed non-state actors, undermining domestic political institutions.
    Keywords: military aid; conflict; democracy; elections
    Date: 2010–01
  3. By: Osterloh, Steffen; Debus, Marc
    Abstract: This paper studies the effects of political factors, mainly partisanship, on corporate taxes in the past 30 years - a period of intensifying competitive pressure in Europe. Extending the Zodrow-Mieszkowski model by decision-makers who have ideological preferences yields the hypothesis that left-wing leaders set higher corporate tax rates. In the empirical analysis, we introduce a sophisticated measure of ideology derived from content analysis of party manifestos into the literature dealing with partisan effects on tax policy. We can confirm our main hypothesis, but we also find evidence that this partisan effect declines in the course of time. Moreover, we are able to reveal that this effect is mainly driven by the legislatures' stance on welfare policies. Finally, we show that a higher degree of government fragmentation, as well as the leadership of a head of state with an educational background in law counteracts the general tendency to lower tax rates. --
    Keywords: company taxation,tax competition,political ideology,partisan politics
    JEL: H25 H87 D78
    Date: 2009
  4. By: Claudio Parés (Departamento de Economía, Universidad de Concepción)
    Abstract: Political decentralization involves an incentive game in which the President and regional authorities have to share power to provide public goods. In such a game, it is never reasonable to allocate political power to appointed Governors. In fact, when formal authority goes to the President —i.e. under administrative decentralization—, the maximization of the expected public good provision lead to allocate no real authority to Governors. In other words, mere delegation does not exist because regional incentives are not high enough. On the other hand, if formal authority is given to regions —i.e. under democratic decentralization where regional authorities are elected—, Governors may receive some real authority if their incentives are high enough. Additionally, other results of the model say that communication between regions makes the President more accountable and may revert a decentral allocation made under no communication. Finally, asymmetric regions prefer different power allocations and power concerns lead national politicians to avoid proposing decentralizing reforms.
    Date: 2009
  5. By: David Hulme
    Abstract: This paper provides a chronological account of the evolution of the concept and policy of reproductive health and its initial entry, and subsequent exclusion, from UN declarations. In the 1990s effective lobbying by sexual and reproductive rights activists established reproductive health for all as a UN goal. However, at the Millennium Assembly of 2000 and in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), an ‘unholy alliance’ of the Holy See and a handful of conservative Muslim governments managed to keep reproductive health off the agenda. This was successful political manoeuvring for the short-term, but the alliance fell apart and the power of the theoretical and empirical case in support of reproductive health saw it return to the MDGs in 2005. The moral standing of religious institutions, such as the Holy See, is undermined by such opportunistic, short-term political behaviour and, in particular, the ambiguous legal status of the Holy See at the UN is called into question.
    Date: 2009

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