nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2010‒12‒04
eleven papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. Legislative Malapportionment and institutional persistence By Miriam Bruhn; Francisco Gallego
  2. Populist Strategies in African Democracies By Danielle Resnick
  3. Political competition and Mirrleesian income taxation: A first pass By Felix Bierbrauer; Pierre C. Boyer
  4. Democracy, Property Rights, Income Equality, and Corruption By Bin Dong; Benno Torgler
  5. Political Participation of Ethnic Associations: Exploring the Importance of Organisational Level Differences in Resources, Motivation and Recruitment Networks By Strömblad, Per; Bengtsson, Bo
  6. Sharing Competences: The Impact of Local Institutional Settings on Voter Turnout By Claus Michelsen; P. Bönisch; Martin T.W. Rosenfeld
  7. The Public Perception and Normative Valuation of Executive Compensation: An International Comparison By Kuhn, Andreas
  8. Mutual Interdependence between Elites and the Poor By Chipiliro Kalebe-Nyamongo
  9. Making sense of immigration policy: Argentina, 1870-1930 By Blanca Sánchez-Alonso
  10. Gender equality in the European Union: lessons for democracy? By Sara Clavero; Yvonne Galligan
  11. The International Circulation of Elites: Knowledge, Entrepreneurialand Political By Andrés Solimano; Diego Avanzini

  1. By: Miriam Bruhn; Francisco Gallego
    Abstract: This paper argues that legislative malapportionment, denoting a discrepancy between the share of legislative seats and the share of population held by electoral districts, serves as a tool for predemocratic elites to preserve their political power and economic interests after a transition to democracy. We claim that legislative malapportionment enhances the pre-democratic elite’s political influence by overrepresenting areas that are more likely to vote for parties aligned with the elite. This biased political representation survives in equilibrium as long as it helps democratic consolidation. We use data from Latin America to document empirically that malapportionment increases the probability of transitioning to a democracy. Moreover, our data show that overrepresented electoral districts are more likely to vote for parties close to pre-democracy ruling groups. We also find that overrepresented areas have lower levels of political competition and they receive more transfers per capita from the central government, both of which favor the persistence of power of pre-democracy elites.
    Keywords: Democracy, dictatorship, institutions, Latin America, persistence, political economy.
    JEL: H1 N46 N10 P16 P48
    Date: 2010
  2. By: Danielle Resnick
    Abstract: Drawing on insights from Latin America, this paper examines the factors that contributed to the use of populist strategies by political parties during recent presidential elections in Kenya, South Africa, and Zambia. Specifically, the paper argues that the nature of party competition in Africa, combined with rapid urbanization and informalization of the labour force, provided a niche for populist leaders to espouse a message relevant to the region’s growing urban poor. Simultaneously, such leaders employed ethno-linguistic appeals to mobilize a segment of rural voters who could form a minimum winning coalition in concert with the urban poor and thereby deliver sizeable electoral victories. While such strategies are similar to those used by Latin American populists, the paper highlights key contrasts as well. By combining crossregional and sub-national perspectives, this paper therefore aims to contribute to a better understanding of how demographic and socioeconomic changes in Africa intersect with voting behaviour and political party development.
    Keywords: Africa, democratization, political parties, populism, urbanization, voting behaviour
    Date: 2010
  3. By: Felix Bierbrauer (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, Bonn); Pierre C. Boyer (University of Mannheim, Department of Economics)
    Abstract: We study Downsian competition in a Mirrleesian model of income taxation. The competing politicians may differ in competence. If politicians engage in vote-share maximization, the less competent politician's policy proposals are attractive to the minority of rich agents, whereas those of the competent politician are attractive to the majority of poor agents. The less competent politician wins with positive probability, which gives rise to a political failure in the sense of Besley and Coate (1998). Political failures are avoided if politicians maximize winning probabilities. Nevertheless, the two equilibria cannot be Pareto-ranked, the minority may be better off under vote-share maximization.
    Keywords: Electoral Competition, Non-linear Income Taxation, Candidate Quality
    JEL: H21 C72 D72
    Date: 2010–11
  4. By: Bin Dong; Benno Torgler
    Abstract: This paper presents theoretical and empirical evidence on the nexus between corruption and democracy. We establish a political economy model where the effect of democracy on corruption is conditional on income distribution and property rights protection. Our empirical analysis with cross-national panel data provides evidence that is consistent with the theoretical prediction. Moreover, the effect of democratization on corruption depends on the protection of property rights and income equality which shows that corruption is a nonlinear function of these variables. The results indicate that democracy will work better as a control of corruption if the property right system works and there is a low level of income inequality. On the other hand if property rights are not secured and there is strong income inequality, democracy may even lead to an increase of corruption. In addition, property rights protection and the mitigation of income inequality contribute in a strong manner to the reduction of corruption.
    Keywords: Corruption; Democracy; Income inequality; Property rights
    JEL: D73 H11 P16
    Date: 2010–11
  5. By: Strömblad, Per (Institute for Futures Studies); Bengtsson, Bo (Institute for Housing and Urban Research, Uppsala University)
    Abstract: <p> In this paper, we apply the Civic Voluntarism Model (CVM) proposed by Verba, Schlozman and Brady on the organisational level. Simultaneously contributing to the research on the political integration of ethnic minorities, we examine resources, motivation and recruitment networks of ethnic associations, and probe the extent to which these mechanisms influence collectively organised political participation. We use data based on face to face interviews with representatives of 106 organisations of four different immigrant groups in Stockholm. Our results indicate that participation rates of ethnic associations vary with size, access to information technology, level of internal democracy, overall aspiration to influence society, and contacts with political elites. Noteworthy, however, our analyses suggest that members’ proficiency in the Swedish language is not important in this respect. Conceptually and methodologically the study demonstrates how the CVM can be fruitfully applied when analysing differences in the political activity of voluntary associations.<p>
    Keywords: Ethnic minorities; Political integration; Ethnic associations; Political participation; Civic Voluntarism Model; Voluntary associations
    JEL: J15 J24 J61 J71
    Date: 2010–11–22
  6. By: Claus Michelsen; P. Bönisch; Martin T.W. Rosenfeld
    Abstract: Institutions are common predictors of voter turnout. Most research in this field focuses on cross-country comparisons of voting systems, like the impact of compulsory voting or registration systems. Fewer efforts have been devoted to understand the role of local institutions and their impact on political participation. Especially the impact of divided competences in relation to public good provision and its impact on voter turnout has been widely ignored. In the present paper, we analyze the effects of different institutional settings for inter-municipal cooperation on voter turnout. We use data from local elections in Germany, held in 2003 and 2004. Overall, we analyze aggregate voter turnout of 1661 municipalities and find strong evidence for our hypothesis that local institutional settings are influential in this context. Further, our results indicate that the better competences correspond to the spatial dimension of local public goods, the higher should be the voter turnout.
    Keywords: voter turnout, local institutions, inter-municipal cooperation
    JEL: D70 D72 H11 H40
    Date: 2010–10
  7. By: Kuhn, Andreas (University of Zurich)
    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
  8. By: Chipiliro Kalebe-Nyamongo
    Abstract: There has been a growing recognition among scholars that politics matters in the distribution of resources in society. However, attempts to use a political economy ‘lens’ with which to explore causes of poverty and strategies for poverty alleviation have largely ignored elites. By failing to embrace the crucial role elites play in the implementation of pro-poor policy, existing research has not produced a holistic understanding of the underlying factors which inhibit or promote action towards propoor policy. Historical accounts of the evolution of welfare states in the UK and USA inform us that elites prioritization of poverty reduction is driven by the extent to which elites and the poor are interdependent, such that the presence of the poor has a positive or negative impact on elite welfare. Drawing on research into elite views of poverty and the poor in Malawi, this paper argues that in formulating effective, responsive, and comprehensive strategies for poverty reduction, the role of elites must be considered in addition to the adoption of democratic, economic, and social institutions.
    Keywords: Malawi, elites, politics of poverty, pro-poor policy
    Date: 2010
  9. By: Blanca Sánchez-Alonso
    Abstract: The aim of this paper is to disentangle the different forces shaping Argentine immigration policy from 1870 to 1930. Although immigration restrictions increased over time Argentina remained relatively open to mass migration until the 1930s in contrast with the United States. The quantitative evidence presented here suggests that there were economic reasons to restrict immigration prior to the 1930s, namely rising inequality and a declining demand for workers. Labour in Argentina would have been better off with a more restrictive immigration policy since 1900. However, labour interests could not be translated into Parliament in a direct way as in countries with a wide electoral franchise and high political participation like the United States. In Argentina a large share of workers did not have the right to vote simply because they were foreigners. Those negatively affected by massive immigration developed alternative actions: general strikes, labour unrest and violence. Political and social fear finally pushed those who had more to gain from an abundant supply of labour to introduce immigration restrictions.
    Keywords: Immigration policy, Argentina, Political economy, International migration
    JEL: N4 N36 J61 O24
    Date: 2010–11
  10. By: Sara Clavero; Yvonne Galligan
    Abstract: The gendered nature of democratic decision-making in the EU is the focus of this paper. It outlines a theoretical model of democracy that looks at public decision-making processes through a gender lens: gender democracy. It then takes two instances of democratic decision-making in the European Union relevant to gender equality: the Goods and Services Directive and the Recast Equality Directive. Using the concept ‘gender democracy’, the paper illuminates the contingent treatment of gender interests in democratic politics at EU level.
    Keywords: democracy; directives; gender policy
    Date: 2010–11–15
  11. By: Andrés Solimano; Diego Avanzini
    Abstract: International migration analysis often focuses on mass migration rather than on the international mobility of elites, which is the focus of this paper. The paper offers a three-fold classification of elites: (a) knowledge elites, (b) entrepreneurial elites and (c) political elites. We explore the concept of elites and their main motivation to move across nations and review indirect empirical evidence relevant to this type of mobility, highlighting some channels through which elites can affect international development.
    Keywords: international migration, entrepreneurial, political migrants, talent mobility
    Date: 2010

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