nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2013‒07‒15
twenty-two papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. Political training as a pathway to power: the impact of participation in student union councils on candidate emergence By Lundin, Martin; Nordström Skans, Oskar; Zetterberg, Pär
  2. Extreme parties and political rents By Aytimur, Refik Emre
  3. Why Attend Sessions When Reelection Is Certain? Evidence from the German Parliament By Bernecker, Andreas
  4. Men Vote in Mars, Women Vote in Venus:A Survey Experiment in the Field By Vincenzo Galasso; Tommaso Nannicini
  5. Religion, Politician Identity and Development Outcomes: Evidence from India By Bhalotra, Sonia R.; Clots-Figueras, Irma; Cassan, Guilhem; Iyer, Lakshmi
  6. How Do Voters Respond to Information? Evidence from a Randomized Campaign By Chad Kendall; Tommaso Nannicini; Francesco Trebbi
  7. A Map of Approval Voting Equilibria Outcomes By Sébastien Courtin; Matias Nunez
  8. Can Social Media Predict Election Results? Evidence from New Zealand By Michael P. Cameron; Patrick Barrett; Bob Stewardson
  9. Networks, Commitment, and Competence: Caste in Indian Local Politics By Kaivan Munshi; Mark Rosenzweig
  10. "Unfinished Business": Ethnic Complementarities and the Political Contagion of Peace and Conflict in Gujarat By Saumitra Jha
  11. Moneycracy By A. Fedele; P. Giannoccolo
  12. Corruption in representative democracy By Bannikova, Marina
  13. Public Attitudes toward Immigration By Jens Hainmueller; Daniel J. Hopkins
  14. Inferring Hawks and Doves from Voting Records By Eijffinger, S.C.W.; Mahieu, R.J.; Raes, L.B.D.
  15. Election Fraud and Post-Election Conflict: Evidence from the Philippines By Crost , Benjamin; Felter, Joseph; Mansour, Hani; Rees, Daniel I.
  16. Direct democracy and local public finances under cooperative federalism By Asatryan, Zareh; Baskaran, Thushyanthan; Grigoriadis, Theocharis; Heinemann, Friedrich
  17. Taxation and democratization By Baskaran, Thushyanthan
  18. Weather, Salience of Climate Change and Congressional Voting By Herrnstadt, Evan; Muehlegger, Erich
  19. Political Mergers as Coalition Formation: An Analysis of the Heisei Municipal Amalgamations By Weese, Eric
  20. Importance of status quo when lobbying a coalition government By Aytimur, Refik Emre
  21. From Green Users to Green Voters By Diego Comin; Johannes Rode
  22. Conflict, Evolution, Hegemony, and the Power of the State By David K. Levine; Salvatore Modica

  1. By: Lundin, Martin (IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy); Nordström Skans, Oskar (IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy); Zetterberg, Pär (Department of Government, Uppsala University)
    Abstract: We test the hypothesis that political training (experiences of debates, negotiations, coalition-building, etc.) in voluntary associations increases the probability of becoming a candidate in public elections. We apply a regression discontinuity design, comparing bare winners and bare losers in student union (SU) elections, to data on 5,000 SU candidates at Swedish universities (1982–2005). This data is linked to information on all candidates in Swedish public elections (1991–2010). As hypothesized, students who were elected to the SU council, and thereby received political training, were 34 percent (6 percentage points) more likely to run for public office than SU council candidates who did not win a seat. The analysis contributes to political recruitment literature by identifying arenas outside of representative democratic institutions that facilitate the step into election processes. It also provides evidence to an increasingly contested issue within political participation research by showing that activities in associations increase political involvement.
    Keywords: Political training; political recruitment; political participation; public elections; associations; regression discontinuity
    JEL: D72 I20
    Date: 2013–06–17
  2. By: Aytimur, Refik Emre
    Abstract: We study the rent-seeking behaviour of political parties in a proportional representation system, where the final policy choice of the parliament is a weighted average of parties' policy positions, weights being their vote shares. We find that parties' policy preferences and their rent levels are strongly linked. Our main result is that an extreme party chooses a higher rent level than a moderate party, except in some cases of unlikely distributions of parties. An extreme party has more policy influence than a moderate party since it pulls the final policy towards its position more than a moderate party. Hence, a voter is ready to pay more rents to an extreme party in exchange of a greater policy influence. Furthermore, note that the voter does not need to be an extremist to vote for an extreme party. She is acting strategically in order to influence the final policy in her advantage as much as possible. In turn, this strategic behaviour of voters allow more extreme parties to earn higher rent levels. --
    Keywords: electoral competition,rent-seeking political parties,proportional representation system
    JEL: D72 D73 D78
    Date: 2013
  3. By: Bernecker, Andreas
    Abstract: Does stiffer electoral competition reduce political rent-seeking behavior? For a micro-analysis of this question, I construct a new data set spanning the years 2005 to 2012 covering biographical and political information of German members of parliament (MPs), election results, and attendance rates in parliament. For the parliament elected in 2009, I show that indeed candidates who expect to face a close race in their district show significantly and relevantly lower absence rates in parliament beforehand. Politicians of governing parties seem to be less responsive to their vote margins. These results are confirmed by an analysis of the parliament elected in 2005 and also by employing an instrumental variable strategy exploiting convenient peculiarities of the German electoral system. To my knowledge this is the first study to create a measure for parliamentary absences in Germany and one of the first to look at the effect of political competition on absences. This paper is also the first to extend the analysis to MPs elected via party lists.
    Keywords: Accountability , Political Competition , Quality of Politicians , Rent-Seeking , Absences
    JEL: D72 H11 J45
    Date: 2013
  4. By: Vincenzo Galasso; Tommaso Nannicini
    Abstract: This paper investigates the differential response of male and female voters to competitive persuasion in political campaigns. During the 2011 municipal elections in Milan, a sample of eligible voters was randomly divided into three groups. Two were exposed to the same incumbent’s campaign but to different opponent’s campaigns, with either a positive or a negative tone. The third—control—group received no electoral information. The campaigns were administered online and consisted of a bundle of advertising tools (videos, texts, slogans). Stark gender differences emerge. Negative advertising increases men’s turnout, but has no effect on women. Females, however, vote more for the opponent and less for the incumbent when they are exposed to the opponent’s positive campaign. Exactly the opposite occurs for males. Additional tests show that our results are not driven by gender identification with the candidate, ideology, or other voter’s observable attributes. Effective strategies of persuasive communication should thus take gender into account. Our results may also help to reconcile the conflicting evidence on the effect of negative vs. positive advertising, as the average impact may wash out when aggregated across gender. Keywords: gender differences, political campaigns, competitive persuasion. JEL classification: D72, J16, M37
    Date: 2013
  5. By: Bhalotra, Sonia R. (University of Bristol); Clots-Figueras, Irma (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid); Cassan, Guilhem (University of Namur); Iyer, Lakshmi (Harvard Business School)
    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 control 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.
    Keywords: religion, politician identity, infant mortality, primary education, India, Muslim
    JEL: I15 J13 H41 P16
    Date: 2013–06
  6. By: Chad Kendall; Tommaso Nannicini; Francesco Trebbi
    Abstract: Rational voters update their subjective beliefs about candidates’ attributes with the arrival of information, and subsequently base their votes on these beliefs. Information accrual is, however, endogenous to voters’ types and difficult to identify in observational studies. In a large scale randomized trial conducted during an actual mayoral campaign in Italy, we expose different areas of the polity to controlled informational treatments about the valence and ideology of the incumbent through verifiable informative messages sent by the incumbent reelection campaign. Our treatments affect both actual vote shares at the precinct level and vote declarations at the individual level. We explicitly investigate the process of belief updating by comparing the elicited priors and posteriors of voters, finding heterogeneous responses to information. Based on the elicited beliefs, we are able to structurally assess the relative weights voters place upon a candidate’s valence and ideology. We find that both valence and ideological messages affect the first and second moments of the belief distribution, but only campaigning on valence brings more votes to the incumbent. With respect to ideology, cross-learning occurs, as voters who receive information about the incumbent also update their beliefs about the opponent. Finally, we illustrate how to perform counterfactual campaigns based upon the structural model. Keywords: voting, information, beliefs elicitation, randomized controlled trial.
    Date: 2013
  7. By: Sébastien Courtin; Matias Nunez (THEMA, University of Cergy-Pontoise, France.; THEMA, University of Cergy-Pontoise, France.)
    Abstract: It is commonly accepted that the multiplicity of equilibria is ubiquitous in preference aggregation games with any voting method. We prove that this multiplicity is greatly reduced under some mild restrictions over social preferences when each voter can vote for as many candidates as she wishes (the Approval voting method). For scenarios with three candidates, we can hence build a map that associates any preference profile to its set of equilibria outcomes; this map is very close to the most well-known Tournament solutions.
    Keywords: Approval voting; Condorcet winner; Voting equilibria; Asymmetric Societies
    JEL: D70 D72
    Date: 2013
  8. By: Michael P. Cameron (University of Waikato); Patrick Barrett (University of Waikato); Bob Stewardson (University of Waikato)
    Abstract: The importance of social media for election campaigning has received a lot of attention recently. Using data from the 2011 New Zealand General Election and the size of candidates’ social media networks on Facebook and Twitter, we investigate whether social media is associated with election votes and probability of election success. Overall, our results suggest that there is a statistically significant relationship between the size of online social networks and election voting and election results. However, the size of the effect is small and it appears that social media presence will therefore only make a difference in closely contested elections.
    Keywords: social media; elections; voting; New Zealand
    JEL: D72 L82
    Date: 2013–05–31
  9. By: Kaivan Munshi; Mark Rosenzweig
    Abstract: This paper widens the scope of the emerging literature on economic networks by assessing the role of caste networks in Indian local politics. We test the hypothesis that these networks can discipline their members to overcome political commitment problems, enabling communities to select their most competent representatives, while at the same time ensuring that they honor the public goods preferences of their constituents. Using detailed data on local public goods at the street level and the characteristics of constituents and their elected representatives at the ward level over multiple terms, and exploiting the random system of reserving local council seats for caste groups, we find that caste discipline results in the election of representatives with superior observed characteristics and the provision of a significantly greater level of public goods. This improvement in political competence occurs without apparently diminishing leaders' responsiveness to the preferences of their constituents, although the constituency is narrowly defined by the sub-caste rather than the electorate as a whole.
    JEL: H11 H4 O12 O43
    Date: 2013–07
  10. By: Saumitra Jha
    Abstract: I examine how the historical legacies of inter-ethnic complementarity and competition influence contemporary electoral competition and its effects on patterns of ethnic violence. Using local comparisons within Gujarat, a single Indian state known for its non-violent local traditions yet also for widespread ethnic pogroms in 2002, I provide evidence that while towns with close votes in the preceding state elections do predict an increased incidence of ethnic riots, these effects are diminished in medieval port towns that historically enjoyed exogenous inter-ethnic complementarities. Furthermore, unlike other towns where pre-riot electoral competitiveness coincided with historic inter-ethnic competition and where the ruling party reaped well-targeted electoral dividends from the riots, medieval port constituencies exhibited a relative vote swing of more than seven percentage points against that party. These rendered medieval port constituencies marginal constituencies in future elections, which also saw less ethnic violence. I interpret these results as consistent with the existence of a fundamentally conditional, yet magnifying interaction between electoral competition and local institutions in generating incentives for ethnic violence. Where marginal electoral constituencies coincide with or reflect pre-existing inter-ethnic economic competition, politicians have both enhanced local and state-wide incentives to foster ethnic mobilization and violence. On the other hand, when the focus of electoral competition shifts to constituencies enjoying complementary norms and organizations supporting local inter-ethnic tolerance, this can reduce state-wide incentives for ethnic violence.
    JEL: N0 N3 N35 N4 N45 N9 N95 O1 O12 R1 Z1 Z12 Z13
    Date: 2013–07
  11. By: A. Fedele; P. Giannoccolo
    Abstract: How do wage and other financial benefits affect the set of candidates for political office? In this theoretical paper, we answer the question by studying self-selection into politics of individuals with heterogeneous skills and heterogeneous motivations. Our predictions are in line with the efficiency wage results proposed by the extant literature when a benchmark model with skills as the sole relevant characteristic of individuals is considered. Welfare is increasing in the politicians'wage since the best, i.e., high-skilled, individuals are attracted to politics only if their remuneration covers their high opportunity costs. Our findings are remarkably different when motivation is also taken into account. Welfare is not likely to be maximized when the politicians'wage is relatively high, for high-skilled individuals with market-oriented rather than public-spirited motivation are attracted. Finally, we provide an overview of the labor market of politicians in Europe and suggest that the Italian Parliament might be representative of our inefficiency wage mechanism, which we call moneycracy.
    JEL: P16 J45 J24 J32
    Date: 2013–07
  12. By: Bannikova, Marina
    Abstract: A parliament with n members, distributed among two parties, decides whether to accept or reject a certain proposal. Each member of the parliament votes in favour or against. If there are at least t members in favour, the proposal is accepted; otherwise it is rejected. A non-member of the parliament, the briber, is interested in having the proposal accepted. To this end, he is willing to bribe members to induce them to vote in favour. It is compared a parliament with party discipline, where members vote according to the party line, and a parliament without party discipline, where members vote according to their own opinion. The paper determines, for given values of n and t , the average number of members that the briber has to bribe in each case (with the average taken with respect to all the possible allocations of members between parties and their votes, and also with respect to those allocations inducing the briber to bribe). The results show that a parliament with parties with party discipline is more costly for the briber to be bribed.
    Keywords: Parlaments, Corrupció, Disciplina de partit, Subornació, 32 - Política,
    Date: 2013
  13. By: Jens Hainmueller (Massachusetts Institute of Technology); Daniel J. Hopkins (Department of Government, ICC 681)
    Abstract: Immigrant populations in many developed democracies have grown rapidly, and so too has an extensive literature on natives’ attitudes toward immigration. This research has developed from two theoretical foundations, one grounded in political economy, the other in political psychology. These two literatures have developed largely in isolation from one another, yet the conclusions that emerge from each are strikingly similar. Consistently, immigration attitudes show little evidence of being strongly correlated with personal economic circumstances. Instead, immigration attitudes are shaped by sociotropic concerns about national-level impacts, whether those impacts are cultural or economic. This pattern of results has held up as scholars have increasingly turned to experimental tests, and it fits the evidence from the United States, Canada, and Western Europe. Still, more work is needed to strengthen the causal identification of sociotropic concerns and to isolate precisely how, when, and why they matter for attitude formation.
    Keywords: immigration attitudes, political economy, political psychology, prejudice, cultural threat, public opinion
    Date: 2013–07
  14. By: Eijffinger, S.C.W.; Mahieu, R.J.; Raes, L.B.D. (Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research)
    Abstract: Abstract: We analyze revealed policy preferences in monetary policy committees. From the voting records of the Bank of England we estimate the policy preferences with spatial models of voting. We analyze systematic patterns in these policy preferences. We find that internal committee members tend to hold centrist policy preferences while pronounced policy preferences are generally held by external members. Committee members with a career in academia and the industry hold more diverse policy preferences whereas committee members with central bank experience exhibit little heterogeneity in preferences. The median voter does not vary systematically according to career background.
    Keywords: Voting records;Central Banking;Committees;Ideal points.
    JEL: E58 E59 C11
    Date: 2013
  15. By: Crost , Benjamin (University of Colorado Denver); Felter, Joseph (Stanford University); Mansour, Hani (University of Colorado Denver); Rees, Daniel I. (University of Colorado Denver)
    Abstract: Previous studies have documented a positive association between election fraud and the intensity of civil conflict. It is not clear, however, whether this association is causal or due to unobserved institutional or cultural factors. This paper examines the relationship between election fraud and post-election violence in the 2007 Philippine mayoral elections. Using the density test developed by McCrary (2008), we find evidence that incumbents were able to win tightly contested elections through fraud. In addition, we show that narrow incumbent victories were associated with an increase in post-election casualties, which is consistent with the hypothesis that election fraud causes conflict. We conduct several robustness tests and find no evidence that incumbent victories increased violence for reasons unrelated to fraud.
    Keywords: election fraud, conflict
    JEL: D72 D73 D74
    Date: 2013–06
  16. By: Asatryan, Zareh; Baskaran, Thushyanthan; Grigoriadis, Theocharis; Heinemann, Friedrich
    Abstract: This paper exploits the introduction of the right of referenda at the local level in the German state of Bavaria in 1995 to study the fiscal effects of direct democracy. In the first part of the paper, we establish the relationship between referenda activity and fiscal performance by using a new dataset containing information on all 2500 voter initiatives between 1995 to 2011. This selection on observables approach, however, suffers from obvious endogeneity problems in this application. The main part of the paper exploits population dependent discontinuities in the signature and quorum requirements of referenda to implement a regression discontinuity design (RDD). To safeguard against co-treatments that might affect fiscal outcomes simultaneously at the same thresholds, we validate our results by extending the RDD approach to a difference-in-discontinuity (DiD) design. By studying direct legislation in an archetypical cooperative federation as Germany, our paper extends the literature to a novel institutional setting. The results indicate that in our setting - and in contrast to most of the evidence from Switzerland and the US - direct democracy causes an expansion of local government budgets. --
    Keywords: direct democracy,fiscal policy,regression discontinuity,Bavaria
    JEL: D72 D78 H70
    Date: 2013
  17. By: Baskaran, Thushyanthan
    Abstract: Anecdotal evidence from pre-modern Europe and North America suggests that rulers are forced to become more democratic once they impose a significant fiscal burden on their citizens. One difficulty in testing this taxation causes democratization hypothesis empirically is the endogeneity of public revenues. I use introductions of value added taxes and autonomous revenue authorities as sources of quasi-exogenous variation to identify the causal effect of the fiscal burden borne by citizens on democracy. The instrumental variables regressions with a panel of 122 countries over the period 1981-2008 suggest that revenues had on average a mild positive effect on democracy. --
    Keywords: taxation,democracy,democratic transition,tax innovations
    JEL: H20 P14 O23
    Date: 2013
  18. By: Herrnstadt, Evan (University of MI); Muehlegger, Erich (Harvard University)
    Abstract: Climate change is a complex long-run phenomenon. The speed and severity with which it is occurring is difficult to observe, complicating the formation of beliefs for individuals. We use Google Insights search intensity data as a proxy for the salience of climate change and examine how search patterns vary with unusual local weather. We find that searches for "climate change" and "global warming" increase with extreme temperatures and unusual lack of snow. The responsiveness to weather shocks is greater in states that are more reliant on climate-sensitive industries and that elect more environmentally-favorable congressional delegations. Furthermore, we demonstrate that effects of abnormal weather extend beyond search behavior to observable action on environmental issues. We examine the voting records of members of the U.S. Congress from 2004 to 2011 and find that members are more likely to take a pro-environment stance on votes when their home-state experiences unusual weather.
    Date: 2013–05
  19. By: Weese, Eric (Yale University)
    Abstract: Due to moral hazard problems, municipal mergers in Japan did not result in as many amalgamations as a central planner would have chosen. The inefficiency of the decentralized mergers is calculated using structural parameter estimates based on observed mergers and actual national government policies. Estimation requires neither an equilibrium selection assumption nor the enumeration of all possible mergers.
    JEL: C63 D71 H77
    Date: 2013–04
  20. By: Aytimur, Refik Emre
    Abstract: Lobbying a coalition government is different than lobbying a single-party government, since in the case of a coalition government, the interest group can intervene in the intragovernmental decision process. In the case where the interest group likes the status quo more than the surplus maximizing policy, the interest group influences the policy without any contribution thanks to its credible threat to block unfavorable proposals. We show further that when, say, a leftist coalition government may be replaced by a rightist coalition government, the final policy reflects a rightist interest group's preferences more heavily due to the interest group's forward-looking considerations. --
    Keywords: lobbying,policy-making,coalition governments,status quo
    JEL: C78 D72 D78
    Date: 2013
  21. By: Diego Comin; Johannes Rode
    Abstract: We estimate the effect of the diffusion of photovoltaic (PV) systems on the fraction of votes obtained by the German Green Party. The logistic diffusion of PV systems offers a new identification strategy. We take first differences and instrument adoption rates (i.e. the first difference in the diffusion level) by lagged diffusion levels. The existing rationales for non-linearities in diffusion, and ubiquity of logistic curves ensure that our instrument is orthogonal to variables that directly affect voting patterns. We find that the diffusion of domestic PV systems caused 25 percent of the increment in green votes between 1998 and 2009.
    JEL: D72 O33
    Date: 2013–07
  22. By: David K. Levine; Salvatore Modica
    Abstract: In a model of evolution driven by conflict between societies more powerful states have an advantage. When the influence of outsiders is small we show that this results in a tendency to hegemony. In a simple example in which institutions differ in their “exclusiveness” we find that these hegemonies will be inefficiently “extractive” in the sense of having inefficiently high taxes, high compensation for state officials, and low welfare.
    JEL: A0 A1 A10 C0 C00 C70 C72 C73 D0 D00 D01 D02 D03 D3 D42 D61 D63 D71 D72 D73 D74 D78
    Date: 2013–07

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