nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2010‒11‒27
eight papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. The public perception and normative valuation of executive compensation: an international comparison By Andreas Kuhn
  2. What Determined Conservative Success in the 2010 U.K. General Election? A Bayesian Spatial Econometric Analysis By Christa D. Jensen; Donald Lacombe; Stuart Mcintyre
  3. Post-Keynesian Theory, Direct Action and Political Involvement By G.C. Harcourt
  4. International Law, Domestic Political Orders, and the ‘Democratic Imperative’: Has Democracy Finally Emerged as a Global Legal Entitlement? By Christian Pippan
  5. An Evolutionary Analysis of Turnout With Conformist Citizens By Massimiliano Landi; Mauro Sodini
  6. Judge:Don't Vote! By Michel Balinski; Rida Laraki
  7. Conformism and Turnout By Massimiliano Landi; Mauro Sodini
  8. Choosing choices: Agenda selection with uncertain issues By Raphaël Godefroy; Eduardo Perez-Richet

  1. By: Andreas Kuhn
    Abstract: This paper describes individuals' perceptions and normative valuations of executive compensation using comparable survey data for fifteen OECD member countries. An overwhelming majority of individuals (more than 90%) believes that top executives earn more than they actually deserve. However, there is also substantial variation in the actual and ethical levels of executive compensation, both within and across countries. The empirical analysis further shows that subjective estimates of executive pay are associated with objective measures of inequality and redistribution, and that individuals' perceptions and normative valuations of executive compensation are associated with their more general political preferences.
    Keywords: Executive compensation, subjective wage estimates, political preferences
    JEL: D31 D63 J31
    Date: 2010–11
  2. By: Christa D. Jensen (Department of Economics, West Virginia University); Donald Lacombe (Department of Economics, West Virginia University); Stuart Mcintyre (Department of Economics, Strathclyde University)
    Abstract: The Conservative Party won the recent General Election in the United Kingdom (UK), gaining the most votes and seats of any single party. Conservatives simultaneously performed particularly well in some areas of the UK and poorly in others. In attempting to explain the variation in voting behaviour during this election, we consider an analysis involving an explicit accounting of geographic considerations. The spatial econometric analysis of voting behaviour is still quite rare in the literature, and analyses using a full suite of models, as employed here, are even rarer. We use data from various sources to examine the effects of a range of economic, socio-economic, and political variables on the percentage of the vote obtained by the Conservative Party in each UK constituency in the 2010 General Election. We employ recent advances in Bayesian spatial econometric modelling to determine the appropriate model for drawing these inferences. We find that there is significant spatial error dependence in a model of the percentage of the vote obtained by the Conservative Party in the 2010 UK General Election, justifying the use of spatial econometric methods for our analysis. By explicitly modelling this spatial phenomenon, we get better estimates of the impact of our chosen economic, socio-economic, and political explanatory variables. Results that seem contrary to our prior expectations when using a non-spatial regression model change when estimated using spatial econometric techniques.
    Keywords: Bayesian spatial econometric analysis, spatial voting analysis, UK General Election 2010
    JEL: C11 C21 D72
    Date: 2010–10
  3. By: G.C. Harcourt (Jesus College, Cambridge University and School of Economics, University of New South Wales)
    Abstract: In this paper I analyse how I became an economist and at the same time a democratic socialist and a Christian. I also explained how I became politically involved after my graduate studies at Cambridge in the late 1950s and started lecturing at Adelaide. When back in Cambridge, teaching in the 1960s this time, the war in Vietnam persuaded me to support direct action through the anti-war movement in South Australia when I returned to Adelaide in 1967. The 1960s and the events of the time did influence my approach to teaching and research. More concretely, I was persuaded that ideology and analysis were indissolubly mixed and that one’s stance should always be made explicit. How this influenced what I did in my years in Adelaide, and then from 1982 back in Cambridge, along with my earlier experiences, are all described in the paper.
    Keywords: Political Economy; Political and Religious Beliefs; Ideology and Analysis; Direct Action
    JEL: A0 A1 A2 B0 B2 B3
    Date: 2010–10
  4. By: Christian Pippan
    Abstract: Abstract: After the end of the Cold War, democratic transitions in many parts of the world, a significant increase in the number of signatories to global and regional human rights instruments containing participatory rights, and a growing interest in ‘free and fair’ elections on the part of the UN and other international organizations have led some legal scholars to assert the emergence of an internationally constituted ‘right to democratic governance’. In a certain sense, this was in line with the predominantly liberal reading of the events of 1989 in social science, which interpreted the demise of European communism as a confirmation of the superiority of Western-style democracy over other political regimes. In the controversial debate that followed its initial articulation in the early 1990s, the ‘democratic entitlement thesis’ was hailed by some commentators as finally giving substance to widely accepted but highly ambiguous international concepts such as self-determination, popular sovereignty and political participation, whereas others criticized it as a form of ‘liberal messianism’, or even as a ‘democratic jihad’. The present essay aims to revisit the discussion in light of recent international developments, particularly within the United Nations. Following a general introduction (Section 1), it briefly recapitulates the major strands of the democratic norm thesis and the vivid critique it has received (Section 2). In order to better grasp the overall problématique raised by the thesis, the main section of the paper (Section 3) then addresses three interrelated, yet ultimately distinct, questions: Does the international legal system display any preference for democracy over other domestic political regimes and concurrent constitutional orders? If so, does the contemporary international order embrace any particular vision of democracy? Finally, provided the two prior questions can be answered in the affirmative, do any of the components of an emerging international vision of democracy have a universal legal character? The essay concludes (in Section 4) by arguing that, unless one (inappropriately) equates democracy with free and fair elections, no general rule of international law can be identified requiring states to design their domestic political and constitutional orders in accordance with a particular (e.g. liberal) model of democracy. Moreover, while the persistent refusal to allow for the holding of periodic and genuine elections may today be regarded as constituting a violation of a customary norm (an argument supported here), the responsible government usually does not forfeit its legal standing in the international arena. Notwithstanding these findings, it will be argued that an international regime on domestic democratic governance is progressively taking shape. This regime is comprised of principles, norms, rules, and standards with varying degrees of normativity, around which the expectations of international actors regarding efforts of states ‘to implement the principles and practices of democracy’ increasingly converge.
    Date: 2010–10–18
  5. By: Massimiliano Landi (School of Economics, Singapore Management University); Mauro Sodini (Dipartimento di Statistica e Matematica Applicata all'Economia, Universita degli Studi di Pisa)
    Abstract: We propose an evolutionary analysis of a voting game where citizens have a preference for conformism that adds to the instrumental preference for the electoral outcome. Multiple equilibria arise, and some generate high turnout. Simulations of best response dynamics show that high turnout is asymptotically stable if conformism matters but its likelihood depends on the reference group for conformism: high turnout is more likely when voters care about their own group's choice, as this better overrides the free rider problem of voting games. Comparative statics on the voting cost distribution, the population's size or the groups' composition are also done.
    Keywords: Turnout, Turnout, coordination games, Poisson games, conformism, selection dynamics.
    JEL: D72 C72 C73
    Date: 2010–11
  6. By: Michel Balinski (Department of Economics, Ecole Polytechnique - CNRS : UMR7176 - Polytechnique - X); Rida Laraki (Department of Economics, Ecole Polytechnique - CNRS : UMR7176 - Polytechnique - X)
    Abstract: This article explains why the traditional model of the theory of social choice misrepresents reality, it cannot lead to acceptable methods of ranking and electing in any case, and a more realistic model leads inevitably to one method of ranking and electing—majority judgment—that best meets the traditional criteria of what constitutes a good method.
    Keywords: Arrow's paradox ; Condorcet's paradox ; Majority judgment ; Skating ; Social choice ; Strategic manipulation ; Voting
    Date: 2010–11–18
  7. By: Massimiliano Landi (School of Economics, Singapore Management University); Mauro Sodini (Dipartimento di Statistica e Matematica Applicata all'Economia, Universita degli Studi di Pisa)
    Abstract: This paper proposes a model of turnout in which citizens have a preference for conformism, which adds to the instrumental preference for the electoral outcome. Under this environment multiple equilibria arise, some that generate a (more realistic) high level of turnout, for a wide rage of parameter values. It is also shown that high levels of turnout are robust to the introduction of asymmetry and heterogeneity in the parameter governing the preference for conformism and with respect to the reference group for conformism. This model suggests that high turnout can only be achieved as the outcome of a particular coordination among citizens and, therefore, introduces a di erent perspective in understanding the citizens' decision to vote, which allows also to account for large shifts in turnout rates that are observed after compulsory laws have been introduced or abolished. Moreover, this set up proposes a theory for the D term used in rational theories of voting to account for high turnout rates.
    Keywords: Turnout, compulsory voting, Poisson games, coordination games, conformism.
    JEL: D72 C72
    Date: 2010–11
  8. By: Raphaël Godefroy; Eduardo Perez-Richet
    Abstract: This paper studies selection rules i.e. the procedures committees use to choose whetherto place an issue on their agenda. The main ingredient of the model is that committee members are uncertain about their final preferences at the selection stage: they only know the probability that they will eventually prefer the proposal to the status quo at the decision stage. This probability is private information. We find that a more stringent selection rule makes the voters more conservative. Hence individual behavior reinforces the effect of the rule instead of balancing it. For a voter, conditional on being pivotal, the probability that the proposal is adopted depends on which option she eventually favors. The probability that the proposal is adopted if she eventually prefers the proposal increases at a higher rate with the selection rule than if she eventually prefers the status quo. In order to compensate for that, the voters become more selective. The decision rule has the opposite effect. We describe optimal rules when there is a fixed cost of organizing the final election.
    Date: 2010

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