nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2013‒08‒31
eight papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. Testing the Median Voter Model and Moving Beyond its Limits: Do Characteristics of Politicians Matter? By Marco Portmann; David Stadelmann
  2. The Impact of Political Uncertainty: A Robust Control Approach By Robert Baumann; Justin Svec
  3. Endogenous Voting Weights for Elected Representatives and Redistricting By Justin Svec; James Hamilton
  4. Changing local elite selection in Thailand : emergence of new local government presidents after direct elections and their capabilities By Funatsu, Tsuruyo
  5. Voting against the separation of powers between legislature and administration By David Stadelmann; Reiner Eichenberger; Marco Portmann
  6. Downward Accountability in Response to Collective Actions: The Political Economy of Public Goods Provision in China By Li, Yuan
  7. Corruption along ethnic lines: A study of individual corruption experiences in 17 African countries By Isaksson, Ann-Sofie
  8. Religious Identity, Public Goods and Centralization: Evidence from Russian and Israeli Cities By Theocharis Grigoriadis; Benno Torgler

  1. By: Marco Portmann; David Stadelmann
    Abstract: We exploit a natural measure of congruence between politicians and their constituency' bnm bnnb fgvhjuis preferences to directly quantify the extent of legislative shirking and evaluate the mechanism of the median voter model. The median voter model explains the behavior of politicians with respect to revealed preferences of their constituency about 18.8 percentage points better than a random decision benchmark. However, it fails to account for a substantial part of its theoretical prediction of convergence. Nevertheless, competition for voters under majority rule crowds out individual charact eristics and party affiliations as potential factors which explain legislative shirking.
    Keywords: Constituents' Preferences; Median Voter Model; Political Economy
    JEL: D7 H7
    Date: 2013–03
  2. By: Robert Baumann (Department of Economics, College of the Holy Cross); Justin Svec (Department of Economics, College of the Holy Cross)
    Abstract: In this paper, we examine how candidate uncertainty affects the policy platforms chosen in a uni-dimensional, two candidate Downsian spatial model. The candidates, we assume, do not know the true distribution of voters. Following the robust control literature, candidates respond to this uncertainty by applying a max-min operator to their optimization problem. This approach, consistent with findings within the behavioral economics literature, protects the candidate by ensuring that her expected utility never falls too far, regardless of the true voter distribution. We show that this framework produces policy convergence between the two candidates but there is a multiplicity of possible policy platforms upon which the candidates could settle, some of which could be quite distant from the median voter. These results are robust to the timing of the game and the level of uncertainty faced by the candidates. We argue that our model explains drift, which is our term for changing political beliefs over time. While drift may be caused by shifting attitudes or demographics, we show that drift could also be the result of candidate uncertainty.
    Keywords: Robust control, candidate uncertainty, voting, spatial model
    JEL: H00 D78 D84
    Date: 2013–08
  3. By: Justin Svec (Department of Economics, College of the Holy Cross); James Hamilton (Department of Economics, College of the Holy Cross)
    Abstract: This paper analyzes the merits of a novel method of eliminating the power of a gerrymanderer that involves an endogenous weighting system for elected representatives. This endogenous weighting system ties the voting weight of elected representatives in the legislature to the share of the voters who voted for that representative's party and to the share of representatives elected from that party. If the weights are set correctly, it can be shown in simple voting models like Gilligan and Matsusaka (1999) that redistricting has no influence on the policy passed by the legislature. This benefit, though, is out-weighed by the fact that, in more realistic voting models, the gerrymanderer can manipulate the redistricting process to achieve greater policy bias than under the status quo.
    Keywords: Redistricting, representative weights, gerrymander
    JEL: D72 H11
    Date: 2013–08
  4. By: Funatsu, Tsuruyo
    Abstract: Before rural local government units were established in Thailand, reform debates within the country faced a crucial issue: Candidates at the rural sub-district levels might adopt electioneering methods such as vote buying and the patronage system of the local political and economic elite, the methods that had been used in the national elections. In fact, the results of the 2006 survey in this paper, which followed the introduction of direct elections in rural local government units in 2003, contrast with the result anticipated during the debates on political reform. The preliminary data of the survey shows that the decentralization process and the introduction of the direct election system in the rural areas had some effect in changing the selection process of the local elite in Thailand.
    Keywords: Thailand, Local government, Elections, Social strata, Education, Direct election, Social class
    JEL: I2 N4 N9
    Date: 2013–03
  5. By: David Stadelmann; Reiner Eichenberger; Marco Portmann
    Abstract: We compare the votes of parliamentary representatives and their constituents on a popular initiative that directly aimed at weakening the separation of powers in 1922 in Switzerland. We analyze whether the strength of individual ties to the public service affect the probability of voting for the initiative , holding constituents' preferences constant. Our results indicate that while politicians tend to represent their constituents' preferences, representatives with ties to the public service have a higher probability of supporting the eligibility of public servants for the legislature. Thus, they favor reducing the separation of powers between legislature and administration.
    Keywords: separation of powers; administration; public servants; legislative voting; constituents' preferences
    JEL: D72 D73 H83
    Date: 2013–06
  6. By: Li, Yuan (Stockholm China Economic Research Institute)
    Abstract: Will autocratic governments implement policies to satisfy the people’s demands in order to prevent large scale social unrest? This paper explores this question through quantitatively analysis of the political economy of public goods provision in Chinese provinces. I collected data on the number of labor disputes to measure collective actions. My sample includes provincial leaders whose incentives to deliver public goods can either be explained as a result of upward accountability towards the Center or downward accountability towards the citizens. The confounding factor of upward accountability is ruled out by using two-step estimation; and the reverse causality between public goods provision and collective actions is controlled by using instrumental variables. Result suggests that provincial leaders will implement policies more in favor of the citizens in response to intensified labor disputes.
    Keywords: Accountability; Collective Actions; Public Goods
    JEL: D74 H11 H40 P26
    Date: 2013–08–27
  7. By: Isaksson, Ann-Sofie (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University)
    Abstract: While a growing literature relates macro variation in corruption to ethnic divisions, existing studies have paid little attention to the possible existence of systematic micro variation in corruption along ethnic lines. The present paper examines whether individual corruption experiences vary systematically depending on ethnic group affiliation, and what the nature of this possible variation is. More specifically, it considers the effect of belonging to influential ethnic groups. Empirical findings drawing on data for more than 23,000 respondents in 17 African countries indeed suggest that individual corruption experiences vary systematically along ethnic lines. Belonging to influential ethnic groups – in terms of relative group size or relative economic and political standing – is associated with a greater probability of having experienced corruption. Assuming that belonging to a larger and economically/politically stronger group helps proxy for a greater probability of the corrupt public official being a co-ethnic, this should imply more corruption among co-ethnics, supporting the idea that enforcement mechanisms within ethnic groups could act to strengthen corrupt contracts. The results depend on the type of corruption considered, though; when focusing on a more clearly extortive form of corruption, there is less evidence of collusive behaviour.
    Keywords: corruption; ethnic groups; Africa; afrobarometer
    JEL: D73 O12 O55
    Date: 2013–08–15
  8. By: Theocharis Grigoriadis; Benno Torgler
    Abstract: In this paper, we analyze the effects of religious identity – defined both as personal identification with a religious tradition and institutional ideas on the provision of public goods – on attitudes toward central government. We explore whether citizens belonging to collectivist rather than individualist religious denominations are more likely to evaluate their central government positively. Moreover, we explore whether adherence to collectivist norms of economic and political organization leads to a positive evaluation of central government. Surveys were conducted in Russia and Israel as these countries provide a mosaic of three major world religions – Judaism, Eastern Orthodoxy and Sunni Islam. The information gathered also allows us to study whether attitudes towards religious institutions such as the Russian Orthodox Church, the Chief Rabbinate in Jerusalem, the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, and the Greek-Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem in Israel are able to predict positive attitudes toward centralized forms of governance. We find strong support for the proposition that collectivist norms and an institutional religious identity enhance positive attitudes towards central government.
    Keywords: Religious identity; public goods; collectivism; individualism; local government; centralization; Russia; Israel
    JEL: P16 P17 P21 P35 P51 P52 Z12
    Date: 2013–08

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