nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2013‒07‒05
six papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. Religion, Politician Identity and Development Outcomes: Evidence from India By Sonia R. Bhalotra; Guilhem Cassan; Irma Clots-Figueras; Lakshmi Iyer
  2. The habit for voting, “civic duty” and travel distance By Tim Powlowski; Dennis Coates
  3. Religiosity and State Welfare By Angela K. Dills; Rey Hernández-Julián
  4. Corruption and Economic Growth: The Transmission Channels By Dridi, Mohamed
  5. Do elected councils improve governance ? experimental evidence on local institutions in Afghanistan By Beath, Andrew; Christia, Fotini; Enikolopov, Ruben
  6. On the near-equivalence of tariffs and quotas with cooperative rent-Seeking By James Lake; Maia Linask

  1. By: Sonia R. Bhalotra; Guilhem Cassan; Irma Clots-Figueras; Lakshmi Iyer
    Abstract: This paper investigates whether the religious identity of state legislators in India influences development outcomes, both for citizens of their religious group and for the population as a whole. To allow for politician identity to be correlated with constituency level voter preferences or characteristics that make religion salient, we use quasi-random variation in legislator identity generated by close elections between Muslim and non-Muslim candidates. We find that increasing the political representation of Muslims improves health and education outcomes in the district from which the legislator is elected. We find no evidence of religious favoritism: Muslim children do not benefit more from Muslim political representation than children from other religious groups.
    JEL: H41 I15 J13 P16
    Date: 2013–06
  2. By: Tim Powlowski (University of Tübingen); Dennis Coates (UMBC)
    Abstract: There is a rich literature addressing the paradox of not voting and election turnout from both theoretical and empirical perspectives. By taking advantage of a unique dataset from an “experimental” setting, this paper is the first to estimate the utility that drives the “civic duty” or the habit for voting. Consistent with the general turnout literature, education level, marital status, household size, and distance all affect the persistence of voter participation.
    Keywords: voting participation; election turnout; travel distance; travel cost.
    Date: 2013–06
  3. By: Angela K. Dills; Rey Hernández-Julián
    Abstract: The Catholic sex abuse scandals reduced both membership and religiosity in the Catholic Church. Because government spending on welfare may substitute for the religious provision of social services, we consider whether this plausibly exogenous decline in religiosity affected several measures of the public taste towards government spending on welfare between 1990 and 2008. In places where there were more scandals, individuals state a preference for less government provision of social services. In contrast, a higher level of abuse is also associated with an increase in voting for Democratic candidates for President and state legislatures, and an increase in per capita government welfare spending, although this increase is insufficient to replace the decrease in Catholic-provided charity.
    JEL: H41 I38 Z12
    Date: 2013–06
  4. By: Dridi, Mohamed
    Abstract: The relationship between corruption and economic growth has been the focus of numerous studies. However, no consensus seems to exist on the mechanisms via which corruption should reduce growth. The aim of this paper is to identify the transmission channels through which corruption is likely to affect economic growth. Unlike most previous analysis in this area that used the decomposition method [Mo (2001), Pellegrini and Gerlagh (2004) and, Pellegrini (2011)], we employ a Channel Methodology [developed by Tavares and Wacziarg (2001) and applied by Wacziarg (2001) and, more recently, by Lorentzen, McMillan and Wacziarg (2008)]. This methodology based on a system of simultaneous equations to evaluate the effects of corruption on various determinants of economic growth, will allow us to show how corruption affects growth via each possible channel. Our results suggest that the negative effect of corruption on economic growth is mainly transmitted by its impact on human capital and political instability.
    Keywords: Corruption, Economic Growth, Simultaneous Equations
    JEL: C30 D73 O40
    Date: 2013–06
  5. By: Beath, Andrew; Christia, Fotini; Enikolopov, Ruben
    Abstract: Using data from a field experiment in 500 villages, this paper studies how local institutions affect the quality of governance, as measured by aid distribution outcomes. In villages where elected councils exist and manage distributions, aid targeting improves. However, if the distribution is not clearly assigned to either the council or customary leaders, the creation of elected councils increases embezzlement and makes decision-making less inclusive. Requiring that women manage the distribution jointly with customary leaders also increases embezzlement. Thus, while elected councils can improve governance, overlapping mandates between new and existing institutions may result in increased rent-seeking.
    Keywords: Social Accountability,Governance Indicators,National Governance,Housing&Human Habitats,Peri-Urban Communities
    Date: 2013–06–01
  6. By: James Lake (Southern Methodist University); Maia Linask (University of Richmond)
    Abstract: When governments impose a quota or tariffs on imports, it is well known that the resulting rents and revenues trigger costly rent-seeking and revenue-seeking activities by economic agents. The competition for rents/revenues is welfare-reducing and may be economically more significant than the efficiency losses resulting from the quota/tariff induced resource reallocation. We show that repeated interaction among players can support a socially desirable form of collusion, i.e. cooperation, that eliminates wasteful rent- and revenue-seeking expenditures. Aggregate outcomes are equivalent under tariffs and quotas if cooperation arises. However, the conditions under which cooperation arises differ by policy: that is, quotas and tariffs are only near-equivalent. Indeed, in contrast to Krueger (1974), this near-equivalence result suggests that quotas may be superior to tariffs since cooperative elimination of revenue-seeking is easier than cooperative elimination of rent-seeking.
    Keywords: Rent-seeking, revenue-seeking, equivalence, near-equivalence, quotas
    JEL: C73 D72 F13
    Date: 2013–06

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