nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2010‒02‒13
eight papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. Fiscal centralization and the political process By Facundo Albornoz; Antonio Cabrales
  2. The Political Resource Curse By Brollo, Fernanda; Nannicini, Tommaso; Perotti, Roberto; Tabellini, Guido
  3. Three-Candidate Competition When Candidates Have Valence: Stochastic Voting By Evrenk, Haldun; Kha, Dmitriy
  4. Do Migrants Improve Governance at Home? Evidence from a Voting Experiment By Batista, Catia; Vicente, Pedro C.
  5. Symbolic and ideological representation in national parliaments.. By Ruedin, Didier
  6. Political Predation and Economic Development. By Azam, Jean-Paul; Bates, Robert; Biais, Bruno
  7. Three-Candidate Spatial Competition When Candidates Have Valence: Asymmetric Voter Density and Plurality Maximization By Evrenk, Haldun
  8. Political Legitimacy and Technology Adoption By Metin M. Cosgel; Thomas J. Miceli; Jared Rubin

  1. By: Facundo Albornoz; Antonio Cabrales
    Abstract: We study the dynamic support for fiscal decentralization in a political agency model from the perspective of a region. We show that corruption opportunities are lower under centralization at each period of time. However, centralization makes more difficult for citizens to detect corrupt incumbents. Thus, corruption is easier under centralization for low levels of political competition. We show that the relative advantage of centralization depends negatively on the quality of the local political class, but it is greater if the center and the region are subject to similar government productivity shocks. When we endogenize the quality of local politicians, we establish a positive link between the development of the private sector and the support for decentralization. Since political support to centralization evolves over time, driven either by economic/political development or by exogenous changes in preferences over public good consumption, it is possible that voters are (rationally) discontent about it. Also, preferences of voters and the politicians about centralization can diverge when political competition is weak.
    Keywords: Decentralization, Centralization, Political agency, Quality of politicians, Corruption
    JEL: H11 D72 D73 P16
    Date: 2010–01
  2. By: Brollo, Fernanda (Bocconi University); Nannicini, Tommaso (Bocconi University); Perotti, Roberto (Bocconi University); Tabellini, Guido (Bocconi University)
    Abstract: The paper studies the effect of additional government revenues on political corruption and on the quality of politicians, both with theory and data. The theory is based on a version of the career concerns model of political agency with endogenous entry of political candidates. The evidence refers to municipalities in Brazil, where federal transfers to municipal governments change exogenously according to given population thresholds. We exploit a regression discontinuity design to test the implications of the theory and identify the causal effect of larger federal transfers on political corruption and the observed features of political candidates at the municipal level. In accordance with the predictions of the theory, we find that larger transfers increase political corruption and reduce the quality of candidates for mayor.
    Keywords: government spending, corruption, political selection
    JEL: D72 D73 H40 H77
    Date: 2010–01
  3. By: Evrenk, Haldun (Suffolk University, Economics); Kha, Dmitriy (Suffolk University, Economics)
    Abstract: We study the effects of stochastic (probabilistic) voting on equilibrium locations, equilibrium vote shares and comparative statics in a setup with three heterogenous candidates and a single-dimensional issue space. Comparing the equilibria with and without stochastic voting, we find that under an appropriate level of uncertainty about voter behavior, the model has a pure strategy Nash Equilibrium (PSNE) that is free from several non-plausible features of the PSNE under deterministic voting. The results are robust to extensions to asymmetric density and plurality maximization.
    Keywords: Probabilistic voting; valence; three-candidate competition; centripetal incentives
    JEL: C72 H89
    Date: 2010–02–02
  4. By: Batista, Catia (Trinity College Dublin); Vicente, Pedro C. (Trinity College Dublin)
    Abstract: This paper tests the hypothesis that international migration experiences may promote better institutions at home by raising the demand for political accountability. In order to examine this question, we use a simple postcard voting experiment designed to capture the population’s desire for better governance. Using data from a tailored household survey, we examine the determinants of voting behavior in our experiment, and isolate the positive effect of international emigration on the demand for political accountability. We find that this effect can be mainly attributed to the presence of return migrants, particularly to those who emigrated to countries with better governance.
    Keywords: international migration, governance, political accountability, institutions, effects of emigration in origin countries, household survey, Cape Verde, Sub-Saharan Africa
    JEL: F22 O12 O15 O43 P16
    Date: 2010–01
  5. By: Ruedin, Didier
    Abstract: Using a cross-national perspective covering all free and partly free countries, this thesis addresses two questions: What factors are associated with levels of gender representation, ethnic group representation, and ideological representation? And what are the relationships between levels of gender, ethnic group, and ideological representation? Ideological representation regards policy positions in different issue domains, whilst gender and ethnic group representation are concerned with the inclusion of women and ethnic groups in parliament. The representation of ethnic groups is approached in a multivariate cross-national analysis for the first time. Cultural rather than institutional factors seem to be the best predictors for the different levels of gender representation and ethnic group representation. Cultural attitudes are measured with survey questions on attitudes to women as political leaders, and tolerance of marginalized groups in society. The thesis finds that on average quotas for women and ethnic groups are not associated with higher levels of representation, perhaps because of issues regarding how quotas are implemented. Broadly speaking, little effect of the electoral system on any form of representation could be observed. Looking at levels of ideological representation, in line with some recent studies, the thesis suggests that the electoral system is not associated with different levels of ideological representation. I show that this is the case across various policy domains. Furthermore, the thesis finds no evidence for a direct relationship between levels of gender representation and levels of ethnic group representation, but levels of gender representation may be associated with levels of left–right representation. The relationship between different forms of representation might be shaped by the salience of ideological domains and awareness of under-representation of ethnic minority groups. Overall, the thesis argues that cultural attitudes are central to understanding levels of political representation, a factor often neglected in the literature.
    Date: 2009
  6. By: Azam, Jean-Paul; Bates, Robert; Biais, Bruno
    Date: 2009–07
  7. By: Evrenk, Haldun (Suffolk University, Economics)
    Abstract: I study both local and global Nash equilibria of a model of three-candidate unidimensional spatial competition. In the model, candidates may have different non-policy characteristics (valence). Generalizing the base model studied in Evrenk (2009a;b) the model allows for an asymmetric voter density as well as plurality-maximizing candidates. Unlike the standard Hotelling-Downs model of multi-candidate competition, under an asymmetric density with (heterogenous) vote-maximizing candidates a pure strategy Nash equilibrium (PSNE) exists. Further, this PSNE is free from several non-plausible features of PSNE under a symmetric density. When candidates are plurality-maximizers, some of the PSNE are supported by paradoxical candidate behavior. Further, when voter density is asymmetric and candidates are plurality-maximizers, there are several non-monotonicities in the PSNE.
    Keywords: Valence; three-candidate competition; plurality maximization; local Nash equilibrium; asymmetric voter density
    JEL: C72 H89
    Date: 2010–02–02
  8. By: Metin M. Cosgel (University of Connecticut); Thomas J. Miceli (University of Connecticut); Jared Rubin (California State University, Fullerton)
    Abstract: A fundamental question of economic and technological history is why some civilizations had adopted new and important technologies and others have not. In this paper, we analyze the effect that new technologies have on agents that legitimize rulers. We construct a simple political economy model that suggests that rulers may not accept productivity-enhancing technologies when they negatively affect an agent's ability to provide the ruler legitimacy. However, when other sources of legitimacy emerge, the ruler will accept the technology. We use this insight to help explain the initial blocking but eventual accepting of the printing press in the Ottoman Empire, industrial technologies in Imperial Russia, and military technologies in Qing China.
    Keywords: technology, state, political economy, legitimacy, revolt, Qing China, Imperial Russia, Ottoman Empire
    JEL: D7 H2 H3 N4 N7 O3 O5 P48 P5 Z12
    Date: 2010–01

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