nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2011‒06‒04
eleven papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. Selection of Public Servants into Politics By Thomas Braendle; Alois Stutzer
  2. Political competition and Mirrleesian income taxation: A first pass By Bierbrauer, F.J.; Boyer, F.J.
  3. Distributive Politics and Electoral Incentives: Evidence from Seven US State Legislatures By Aidt, T.S.; Shvets, J.
  4. Democracy, Market Liberalization and Political Preferences By Claudia Senik; Pauline Grosjean
  5. Democracy or videocracy? An econometric analysis of the role of television in the Italian political arena By Sabatini, Fabio
  6. The Macroeconomy and Individuals’ Support for Democracy By Friedrichsen, J.; Zahn, P.
  7. Paying a Visit: The Dalai Lama Effect on International Trade By Fuchs, A.; Klann, N.
  8. On the Origins of Gender Roles: Women and the Plough By Alberto F. Alesina; Paola Giuliano; Nathan Nunn
  9. Reforming the Power Sector in Transition: Do Institutions Matter? By Nepal, R.; Jamasb, T.
  10. Rationalising ‘Irrational’ Support for Political Violence By Jennings, C.
  11. Do Majority Black Districts Limit Blacks’ Representation? The Case of the 1990 Redistricting By Ebonya L. Washington

  1. By: Thomas Braendle; Alois Stutzer (University of Basel)
    Keywords: Political selection, public servants, incompatibility, political representation, corruption, government consumption
    JEL: D72 K39
    Date: 2011
  2. By: Bierbrauer, F.J.; Boyer, F.J.
    Abstract: We study Downsian competition in a Mirrleesian model of income taxation. The competing politicians may dier 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 o under vote-share maximization.
    Keywords: Electoral Competition; Non-linear Income Taxation; Candidate Quality
    JEL: C72 D72 H21
    Date: 2011–01–26
  3. By: Aidt, T.S.; Shvets, J.
    Abstract: We study the effect of electoral incentives on the allocation of public services across legislative districts. We develop a model in which elections encourage individual legislators to cater to parochial interests and thus aggravate the common pool problem. Using unique data from seven US states, we study how the amount of funding that a legislator channels to his district changes when he faces a term limit. We find that legislators bring less state funds to their district when they cannot run for re-election. Consistent with the Law of 1/N, this tendency is less pronounced in states with many legislative districts.
    JEL: D72
    Date: 2011–03–24
  4. By: Claudia Senik (EEP-PSE - Ecole d'Économie de Paris - Paris School of Economics - Ecole d'Économie de Paris, PSE - Paris-Jourdan Sciences Economiques - CNRS : UMR8545 - Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) - Ecole des Ponts ParisTech - Ecole Normale Supérieure de Paris - ENS Paris - INRA, Université Paris-Sorbonne - Ministère de l'Education nationale, de l'Enseignement supérieur et de la Recherche); Pauline Grosjean (UC BERKELEY - Berkeley University of California - UC Berkeley)
    Abstract: This paper questions the conventional wisdom concerning the sequencing of political and economic reforms in developing countries. We exploit the specific situation of frontier-zones as well as the considerable regional variations in culture and economic development in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. We estimate the impact of market development and democratization on subjective political preferences. Taking advantage of a new survey conducted in 2006 by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the World Bank in 28 post-transition countries, we find a positive and significant effect of democracy on support for a market economy, but no effect of market liberalization on support for democracy. Our results are robust to the use of various indices of market liberalization and democracy and alternative measures of political preferences.
    Keywords: market and democracy ; political preferences ; spatial regression discontinuity ; transition economies
    Date: 2011–02
  5. By: Sabatini, Fabio
    Abstract: This paper contributes to the literature by carrying out the first econometric investigation into the role of television in the formation of political consensus in Italy. Based on probit and instrumental variables estimates, we find trust in television to be the most significant predictor of trust in the Italian prime minister. The latter is also strongly and negatively correlated with trust in the judicial system and tolerance towards immigrants.
    Keywords: trust; institutions; democracy; television; media; social capital; Italy; instrumental variables
    JEL: L82 Z13 D72 D83
    Date: 2011–05–25
  6. By: Friedrichsen, J.; Zahn, P.
    Abstract: How important are national macroeconomic indicators for people’s satisfaction with democracy? This paper empirically explores the link from macroeconomic variables to support for established democratic systems. We combine country-level data on growth, inflation, and unemployment from the OECD with survey data from the Eurobarometer for nineWestern European countries for the period 1976-2001. We regress individual satisfaction with democracy on macroeconomic variables and individual controls. Our regressions include country-specific time trends as well as fixed effects for countries and surveyyears. Pooling observations from nine countries, we find that growth (inflation and unemployment) is positively (negatively) correlated with satisfaction with democracy. The effect goes beyond what can be explained by individual characteristics and is non-negligible if interpreted in light of the recent economic crisis. Our findings are robust to alternative specifications using logit and ordered logit models.
    Keywords: Satisfaction with democracy, Economic Growth, Political Economy
    JEL: H11 O42 P16
    Date: 2011–01–26
  7. By: Fuchs, A.; Klann, N.
    Abstract: The Chinese government frequently threatens that meetings between its trading partners’ officials and the Dalai Lama will be met with animosity and ultimately harm trade ties with China. We run a gravity model of exports to China from 159 partner countries between 1991 and 2008 to test to which extent bilateral tensions affect trade with autocratic China. In order to account for the potential endogeneity of meetings with the Dalai Lama, the number of Tibet Support Groups and the travel pattern of the Tibetan leader are used as instruments. Our empirical results support the idea that countries officially receiving the Dalai Lama at the highest political level are punished through a reduction of their exports to China. However, this ‘Dalai Lama Effect’ is only observed for the Hu Jintao era and not for earlier periods. Furthermore, we find that this effect is mainly driven by reduced exports of machinery and transport equipment and that it disappears two years after a meeting took place.
    Keywords: International Trade, International Political Economy, Diplomatic Relations, Exports to China, Tibet, Dalai Lama
    JEL: F13 F51 F59
    Date: 2011–01–26
  8. By: Alberto F. Alesina; Paola Giuliano; Nathan Nunn
    Abstract: This paper seeks to better understand the historical origins of current differences in norms and beliefs about the appropriate role of women in society. We test the hypothesis that traditional agricultural practices influenced the historical gender division of labor and the evolution and persistence of gender norms. We find that, consistent with existing hypotheses, the descendants of societies that traditionally practiced plough agriculture, today have lower rates of female participation in the workplace, in politics, and in entrepreneurial activities, as well as a greater prevalence of attitudes favoring gender inequality. We identify the causal impact of traditional plough use by exploiting variation in the historical geo-climatic suitability of the environment for growing crops that differentially benefited from the adoption of the plough. Our IV estimates, based on this variation, support the findings from OLS. To isolate the importance of cultural transmission as a mechanism, we examine female labor force participation of second-generation immigrants living within the US.
    JEL: J16 N30
    Date: 2011–05
  9. By: Nepal, R.; Jamasb, T.
    Abstract: This paper quantitatively explores high-level links between power sector reforms and wider institutional reforms in the economy for a set of 27 diverse countries in rapid political and economic transition since 1990. Panel-data econometrics based on bias corrected dynamic fixed effect analysis (LSDVC) is performed to assess the impact of reforms on macroeconomic and power sector outcomes. The results indicate that power sector reform is indeed a more complicated process than initially perceived. The results also show that power sector reform is greatly inter-dependent with reforms in other sectors in the economy. We conclude that the success of power sector reforms on outcomes in developing countries will largely depend on the extent in which countries are able to synchronize inter-sector reforms in the economy.
    JEL: C33 P28 Q4
    Date: 2011–02–24
  10. By: Jennings, C.
    Abstract: This paper provides a rationale for group support for political violence in situations where violence does not provide a material benefit. Rabin’s (1993) theory of fairness is adopted to demonstrate that although group violence may not be the equilibrium of a material game it may be a fairness equilibrium in a game containing psychological payoffs. For this to happen the material stakes must be perceived as low and psychological payoffs are expressive. Although the material stakes are actually high, members of each group may choose expressively to support the use of violence because the probability of being decisive is low. The paper also considers the possibility of peace emerging as a fairness equilibrium. This can only happen if each group perceives the other as making some sacrifice in choosing peace.
    Keywords: Conflict; emotions; reciprocity; expressive; rhetoric
    JEL: D72 D74
    Date: 2011–01–26
  11. By: Ebonya L. Washington
    Abstract: Conventional wisdom and empirical academic research conclude that majority Black districts decrease Black representation by increasing conservatism in Congress. However, this research generally suffers from three limitations: 1) too low a level of aggregation; 2) lack of a counterfactual and 3) failure to account for the endogeneity of the creation of majority minority districts. I compare congressional delegations of states that during the 1990 redistricting were under greater pressure to create majority minority districts with those under lesser pressure in a difference-in-difference framework. I find no evidence that the creation of majority minority districts leads to more conservative House delegations. In fact point estimates indicate that states that increased their share of majority Black districts saw their delegations grow increasingly liberal. I find similar results for majority Latino districts in the southwest. Thus I find no evidence for the common view that majority minority districts decrease minority representation in Congress.
    JEL: D72 J15 K0
    Date: 2011–05

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