nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2012‒03‒14
four papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. Looking beyond the Incumbent: The Effects of Exposing Corruption on Electoral Outcomes By Chong, Alberto; De La O Torres, Ana L.; Karlan, Dean; Wantchekon, Leonard
  3. Politics in Coalition Formation of Local Governments By Tuukka Saarimaa; Janne Tukiainen
  4. Does Religiosity Promote Property Rights and the Rule of Law? By Niclas Berggren; Christian Bjørnskov

  1. By: Chong, Alberto (George Washington University); De La O Torres, Ana L. (Yale University); Karlan, Dean (Yale University); Wantchekon, Leonard (Princeton University)
    Abstract: Does information about rampant political corruption increase electoral participation and the support for challenger parties? Democratic theory assumes that offering more information to voters will enhance electoral accountability. However, if there is consistent evidence suggesting that voters punish corrupt incumbents, it is unclear whether this translates into increased support for challengers and higher political participation. We provide experimental evidence that information about copious corruption not only decreases incumbent support in local elections in Mexico, but also decreases voter turnout, challengers' votes, and erodes voters' identification with the party of the corrupt incumbent. Our results suggest that while flows of information are necessary, they may be insufficient to improve political accountability, since voters may respond to information by withdrawing from the political process. We conclude with a discussion of the institutional contexts that could allow increased access to information to promote government accountability.
    JEL: D72 D73 D82 D83
    Date: 2012–01
  2. By: Maria De Paola; Vincenzo Scoppa (Dipartimento di Economia e Statistica, Università della Calabria)
    Abstract: Using data from Italian municipal elections from 1993 to 2011, we investigate whether political competition affects electoral turnout. Taking advantage of the dual ballot system adopted for municipalities with more than 15,000 inhabitants, we measure the expected closeness in the second round through the first round electoral results. Thanks to the richness of our dataset we are able to distinguish between valid, blank and invalid ballots and to investigate the effect of closeness on each of these variables, controlling for municipalities’ and candidates’ characteristics and for municipal fixed effects. We also estimate a Heckman selection model to take into account for the non-randomly selected sample. It emerges that closeness strongly increases valid ballots and reduces blank ballots supporting the idea that the expected benefits of voting increase in closer competitions. The effect is much higher in magnitude than that merging when measuring closeness with ex-post electoral results, suggesting a quite relevant endogeneity bias. On the other hand, we do not find any statistically significant effect on invalid ballots.
    Keywords: Electoral Turnout, Closeness, Electoral Competition, Blank and Invalid Ballots
    JEL: D72 D78 J45
    Date: 2012–02
  3. By: Tuukka Saarimaa; Janne Tukiainen
    Abstract: We analyze empirically the coalition formation of local governments using a novel reduced form econometric procedure that allows for multi-partner mergers. Using Finnish municipal merger data where mergers were decided independently at the local level, we find that merger decisions are largely in line with voter preferences. Most importantly, mergers are clearly less likely when the distance of the median voter to the coalition centre is large. However, councillors seem also to prefer mergers where post-merger political competition is lower which indicates a concern for re-election. Interestingly, municipalities do not seem to be seeking economies of scale through merging. This is possibly due to existing cooperation in service production which we find to be a strong predictor of merging.
    Keywords: Coalition formation, local politics, choice based sampling
    JEL: H77 H72 C35
    Date: 2012–03
  4. By: Niclas Berggren (Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN) and University of Economics in Prague); Christian Bjørnskov (Department of Economics and Business, Aarhus University, Denmark)
    Abstract: Social and cultural determinants of economic institutions and outcomes have come to the forefront of economic research. We introduce religiosity, measured as the share for which religion is important in daily life, to explain institutional quality in the form of property rights and the rule of law. Previous studies have only measured the impact of membership shares of different religions, with mixed results. We find, in a cross-country regression analysis comprising up to 112 countries, that religiosity is negatively related to our institutional outcome variables. This only holds in democracies (not autocracies), which suggests that religiosity affects the way institutions work through the political process. Individual religions are not related to our measure of institutional quality.
    Keywords: Religion, religiosity, rule of law, property rights, institutions
    JEL: K11 K42 Z12
    Date: 2012–03–06

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