nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2013‒11‒29
twenty papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. 2013 election to German Bundestag from the viewpoint of direct democracy By Tangian, Andranik S.
  2. Voter Turnout and the Size of Government By Aggeborn, Linuz
  3. Like biases and information in elections By Ascensi—n Andina D’az
  4. Institution Building and Political Economy By Majumdar, Sumon; Mukand, Sharun W
  5. Lying in Politics: Evidence from the US By Alessandro Bucciol; Luca Zarri
  6. The Return of the Prodigy Son: Do Return Migrants make Better Leaders? By Marion Mercier
  7. Do more educated leaders raise citizens’ education? By Díaz Serrano, Lluís; Pérez, Jessica Helen
  8. Social Capital and Political Institutions: Evidence that Democracy Fosters Trust By Ljunge, Martin
  9. Changes in the topical structure of russian-language livejournal: the impact of elections 2011 By Kirill Maslinsky; Sergey Koltsov; Olessia Koltsova
  10. World Politics and Support for Terrorism within Muslim Populations: Evidence from Muslim Countries and Western Europe By Kirill Zhirkov; Maykel Verkuyten; Jeroen Weesie
  11. State of the States: Serving Welfare Recipients in a Post-Recessionary Fiscal and Political Environment. By Elizabeth Laird; Michelle Derr; Julia Lyskawa
  12. Three principles of “political theology” in the Stefan George circle By Alexander Mikhailovsky
  13. The politics of fiscal effort in Spain and Ireland: Market credibility versus political legitimacy By Sebastian Dellepiane; Niamh Hardiman
  14. Can China’s Political System Sustain Its Peaceful Rise? By SHIRK, Susan L.
  15. A Replication of "The Political Determinants of Federal Expenditure at the State Level (Public Choice, 2005) By Stratford Douglas; W. Robert Reed
  16. Shining a Light on the Mysteries of State: The Origins of Fiscal Transparency in Western Europe By Timothy Irwin
  17. Consistent Voting Systems Revisited: Computation and Axiomatic Characterization By Bezalel Peleg
  18. Politicians, Governed vs. Non-Governed Interest Groups and Rent Dissipation By Gil S. Epstein; Yosef Mealem
  19. Land, Votes, and Violence: Political Effects of the Insecure Property Rights over Land in Dagestan By Yegor Lazarev
  20. Does Wealth Inequality Matter for Growth? The Effect of Billionaire Wealth, Income Distribution, and Poverty By Bagchi, Sutirtha; Svejnar, Jan

  1. By: Tangian, Andranik S.
    Abstract: The outcomes of the 2013 German Bundestag (federal parliament) are analyzed from the viewpoint of direct democracy. For this purpose, the party positions on 36 topical issues are compared with the results of public opinion polls, and the party and coalition indices of popularity (the average percentage of the population represented) and universality (frequency in representing a majority) are constructed. It is shown that the 2013 election winner, the union of two conservative parties CDU/CSU with their 41.6% of the votes, is the least representative among the four parties eligible for parliament seats (with > 5% of the votes). The most representative among the eligible ones is the left party DIE LINKE that received only 8.6% of the votes. It is concluded that voters are not very consistent with their own political profiles, disregard party manifestos, and are likely driven by political traditions, even if outdated, or by personal images of politicians. Moreover, the actual practice of coalition formation further aggravates the low representativeness of the parliament. Thereby it is shown that representative democracy, as it is, guarantees no adequate representation of public opinion even in Germany with its multiparty system and strong socialdemocratic traditions. To bridge approaches of representative and direct democracy, an alternative election procedure is proposed. For illustration, it is hypothetically applied to redistribute the Bundestag seats with a considerable gain in its representativeness. --
    Keywords: representative democracy,direct democracy,elections,coalitions,theory of voting,mathematical theory of democracy,indices of popularity and universality
    JEL: D71
    Date: 2013
  2. By: Aggeborn, Linuz (Department of Economics)
    Abstract: This paper investigates the causal link between voter turnout and policy outcomes related to the size of government. Tax rate and public expenditures are the focal policy outcomes in this study. To capture the causal mechanism, Swedish and Finnish municipal data are used and a constitutional change in Sweden in 1970 is applied as an instrument for voter turnout in local elections. In 1970, Sweden moved from having separate election days for different levels of government, among other things, to a system with a single election day for political elections, thus reducing the cost associated with voting. This constitutional reform increased voter turnout in local elections in Sweden. The overall conclusion of this paper is that higher voter turnout yields higher municipal taxes and larger local public expenditures. Second, there is some evidence that higher turnout decreases the vote share for right-wing parties.
    Keywords: Voter Turnout; Size of government; Sweden; Finland; Local public finance; Instrumental variable regression
    JEL: D70 D72 H39
    Date: 2013–11–05
  3. By: Ascensi—n Andina D’az (Department of Economic Theory, Universidad de M‡laga)
    Abstract: We model an election between two downsian candidates and a third deterministic one. There is uncertainty about the state of the world. Candidates receive signals on the state and propose a policy to implement. There are two types of voters: social concerned and biased. For both the cases in which the deterministic candidate is biased towards the policy preferred by the majority or the minority group, we characterize all the government structures (coalition governments) that allow for information transmission by the two candidates. Our results show that the third candidate helps to restore the informativeness of the electoral process and that, contrary to expected, information transmission occurs more frequently when the deterministic candidate is biased towards the policy preferred by the majority than when he is against it. Loosely put, the more populist this candidate, the better.
    Keywords: Multi-party electoral competition, heterogeneous voters, information transmission
    JEL: D72 D82
    Date: 2013–11
  4. By: Majumdar, Sumon (Queens University); Mukand, Sharun W (University of Warwick)
    Abstract: The paper examines the role of policy intervention in engendering institutional change. We show that first order changes in the political structure (e.g. introduction of democracy) may be undermined by local political interests and result in persistence in institutions and the (poor) quality of governance. The paper identifies two effects of development policy as a tool for institutional change. One, by increasing political accountability, it may encourage nascent democratic governments to invest in good institutions – the incentive effect. However, we show that it also increases the incentive of the rentier elite to tighten their grip on political institutions – the political control effect. Which of these dominate determine the overall impact on institutional quality. Under some conditions, by getting the elite to align their economic interests with that of the majority, development policy can lead to democratic consolidation and economic improvement. However if elite entrenchment is pervasive, then comprehensive change may require more coercive means.
    Keywords: political structure
    Date: 2013
  5. By: Alessandro Bucciol (Department of Economics (University of Verona)); Luca Zarri (Department of Economics (University of Verona))
    Abstract: In this paper, we quantify the extent and identify some major determinants of lying in politics. We focus on public claims made by US national politicians between 2007 and 2012 and present a series of intriguing results. While politicians – and prominent ones in particular – are reluctant to tell complete (or ‘black’) lies, they have a strong propensity to (strategically) tell ‘grey’ lies, i.e. claims that are only partly true. Moreover, party affiliation has a huge influence, with Republicans being more likely to depart from the truth than Democrats. Also one’s state of origin plays an important role: whereas politicians in general are significantly less likely to lie if they come from swing (or battleground) states, Democratic politicians lie more frequently if they come from traditionally Blue states. Politicians are also less likely to be untruthful if they come from highly educated states and from Southern states, where traditional values prevail. As to political topics, both black and grey lies occur more often on health-related issues. As to presidential candidates, Obama lies significantly less than his opponents. Our results on the extent and sources of variation of lying in politics inform the theory of strategic information transmission as well as the streams of literature on persuasive communication, democratization, human lying in general and deceptive behavior in politics.
    Keywords: Lying, Democracy, Political Competition, Beliefs
    JEL: D72 D03 C25 D82
    Date: 2013–11
  6. By: Marion Mercier (DIAL - Développement, institutions et analyses de long terme - Institut de recherche pour le développement [IRD], PSE - Paris-Jourdan Sciences Economiques - CNRS : UMR8545 - École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales [EHESS] - École des Ponts ParisTech (ENPC) - École normale supérieure [ENS] - Paris - Institut national de la recherche agronomique (INRA), EEP-PSE - Ecole d'Économie de Paris - Paris School of Economics - Ecole d'Économie de Paris)
    Abstract: This paper investigates the impact of political leaders' migration experience on the quality of their leadership. We build up an original database on the personal background of 932 politicians who were at the head of the executive power in a developing country over the 1960-2004 period. We put forward a positive e ffect of the leader having studied abroad on the level of democracy in his country during his tenure. This e ffect is shown to be independent from the leader's education level, as well as from his profession. Moreover, it is mainly driven by countries with a poor initial level of democracy. These results are con rmed by various robustness tests. They propose a new channel through which migration may a ect politics in the sending countries, namely the emergence of the elites.
    Keywords: Political leaders ; Migration ; Democracy ; Developing countries
    Date: 2013–11
  7. By: Díaz Serrano, Lluís; Pérez, Jessica Helen
    Abstract: This paper looks at the contribution of political leaders to enhance citizens education and investigate how the educational attainment of the population is affected while a leader with higher education remains in office. For this purpose, we consider educational transitions of political leaders in office and find that the educational attainment of population increases when a more educated leader remains in office. Furthermore, we also observe that the educational attainment of the population is negatively impacted when a country transitions from an educated leader to a less educated one. This result may help to explain the previous finding that more educated political leaders favor economic growth. Key Words: Political leaders, Primary Education, School Achievement, Political institutions. JEL classification: I21,I25,I28.
    Keywords: Institucions polítiques, Rendiment escolar, Educació primària, Política educativa, 32 - Política, 37 - Educació. Ensenyament. Formació. Temps lliure,
    Date: 2013
  8. By: Ljunge, Martin (Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN))
    Abstract: This paper finds evidence that more democratic political institutions increase trust. Second generation immigrants with ancestries from 115 countries are studied within 30 European countries. Comparing individuals born and residing in the same country, those whose father was born in a more democratic country express higher trust than those whose father was born in a less democratic country. The results are robust to individual, parental, and ancestral country controls.
    Keywords: Trust; Democracy; Political institutions; Cultural transmission; Social capital
    JEL: F55 H10 J62 Z13
    Date: 2013–11–18
  9. By: Kirill Maslinsky (Researcher at the Laboratory for Internet Studies, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Saint-Petersburg, Russia.); Sergey Koltsov (Senior researcher at the Laboratory for Internet Studies, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Saint-Petersburg, Russia); Olessia Koltsova (Head of the Laboratory for Internet Studies, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Saint-Petersburg, Russia)
    Abstract: This study investigates the topical structure of the Russian-language blog-publishing service LiveJournal and the change in it that occurred in the course of the public activity after the State Duma elections in December 2011 as compared to a previous “control” period (November 27 – December 27 and August 15 – September 15 respectively). The data for both periods have been automatically obtained from 2000 top-rated blogs on the basis of ratings published by LiveJournal. Unsupervised topic modelling of the sampled posts was done using Latent Dirichlet Allocation algorithm. In December 2011 we found considerable growth in weights of all the topics closely associated with the discussion of voting results and protests, accompanied by a more moderate decrease in the majority of other social topics. the number of users who started posting texts that may be conventionally qualified as political according to LDA in December 2011, considerably outnumbers the number of those who ceased posting political items , which may indicate the existence of a blogger mobilization process in political topics.
    Keywords: Internet media, blogs, political mobilization, Russia, topic modeling, LDA.
    JEL: Z
    Date: 2013
  10. By: Kirill Zhirkov (National Research University Higher School of Economics, Russia); Maykel Verkuyten (Utrecht University, the Netherlands); Jeroen Weesie (Utrecht University, the Netherlands)
    Abstract: World Politics and Support for Terrorism within Muslim Populations: Evidence from Muslim Countries and Western Europe countries, we examine the levels of support for suicide bombings and other forms of violence. We found that support for terrorism among Muslims is present but the percentage of radicals is quite low. In both samples, support for terrorism is stronger among those who see democracy as a solely Western political system. This pattern of association is similar across the Western European countries, whereas the association varies considerably across the Muslim countries. The perceived economic dominance of the West is related to more support for terrorism among Muslims in Europe. In the Muslim countries, blaming the West for negative international relations is associated with greater support for terrorism. We suggest that improvement of the relationships between the West and the Muslim world can reduce support for terrorism and prevent radicalization within Muslim societies
    Keywords: terrorism, attitudes, social dominance, international relations
    JEL: Z
    Date: 2013
  11. By: Elizabeth Laird; Michelle Derr; Julia Lyskawa
    Keywords: Welfare Recipients, Post-Recessinary Fiscal and Political Environment, Family Support
    JEL: I
    Date: 2013–11–07
  12. By: Alexander Mikhailovsky (National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE))
    Abstract: This paper is concerned with one of the most prominent examples of German intellectual history at the beginning of the 20th century, the George circle. The study identifies three principles which are crucial for the “political theology” of the George circle – the principle of covenant, the principle of the charismatic leader and the principle of dominance and service. The main hypothesis is that the George circle was an ideologically integrated group of intellectuals who sought to reform politics by means of aesthetics, and influenced the language and ideology of the “conservative revolution” in Weimar Germany
    Keywords: political theology, Stefan George, George circle, Friedrich Gundolf, Friedrich Wolters, dominance and service, aestheticization of the political, conservative revolution.
    JEL: Z
    Date: 2013
  13. By: Sebastian Dellepiane (School of Government and Public Policy University of Strathclyde); Niamh Hardiman (School of Politics and International Relations University College Dublin)
    Abstract: Austerity measures in response to Eurozone crisis have tended to be conceived, debated, and implemented as if only the technical parameters of budget management mattered. But policies that impose budgetary hardships on citizens, whether in the form of increased taxes or cuts to public spending go right to the heart of voter expectations about what it is both appropriate and acceptable for governments to do. Pro-cyclical measures that worsen an already difficult situation in a recession run counter to deep-seated norms and expectations in European countries, built up over decades of democratic governance, whereby governments are expected to provide offsetting protection for their citizens against the vicissitudes of the market. If austerity measures are held to be unavoidable in response to market turbulence, and especially if this view is underwritten by international authorities, new challenges of political legitimation are likely to arise. These issues are explored through the experiences of Spain and Ireland.
    Keywords: legitimacy, credibility, Eurozone crisis, Spain, Ireland
    JEL: E43 E62 E63 E65 H12
    Date: 2013–11–26
  14. By: SHIRK, Susan L.
    Abstract: After more than a decade of diplomacy designed to reassure the United States and Asian neighbors that it wasn’t a threat, Chinese foreign policy has turned more confrontational. The Chinese government and Communist Party make decisions by consensus, which theoretically should sustain a cautious foreign policy. It also would seem that China’s growing economic ties with its neighbors would motivate it to avoid conflict. However, examples of a newly assertive China abound. What can this trend tell us about the underlying characteristics of China’s political system?
    Keywords: Social and Behavioral Sciences, China, Asia, political economy, security
    Date: 2013–04–01
  15. By: Stratford Douglas; W. Robert Reed (University of Canterbury)
    Abstract: This paper replicates and analyses a study by Hoover and Pecorino (2005) on federal spending in US states. H&P followed on path-breaking research by Atlas et al. (1995) in which evidence was claimed in favour of the “small state effect;” namely, that since every state is represented by two senators, small states have a disproportionate influence relative to their population size. Using H&P’s data, we both replicate their results, and demonstrate strong support for the small state effect when we formally test their predictions. The contribution of this study is that we demonstrate that this empirical support vanishes when we (i) employ cluster robust standard errors rather than conventional OLS standard errors, and (ii) include a variable for population growth as suggested in a recent study by Larcinese et al. (2013). Our results lead us to conclude that there is no evidence to support the hypothesis of a “small state effect.”
    Keywords: Small state effect; Representation; US Senate; Replication study
    JEL: H1 H5 C1
    Date: 2013–11–13
  16. By: Timothy Irwin
    Abstract: The extent of fiscal transparency in Western Europe has varied over the centuries. Although ancient Greek, Roman, and medieval governments were sometimes open about their finances, the absolute monarchies of the 1600s and 1700s shrouded them in mystery. Factors that have encouraged transparency include (i) the sharing of political power and rulers’ need to persuade creditors to lend and taxpayers’ representatives to approve new taxes; (ii) the spread of technological innovations that reduce the costs of storing and transmitting information; and (iii) the acceptance of political theories that emphasize accountable government and public discussion of government policy.
    Keywords: Fiscal transparency;Western Europe;Public finance;Accounts;Government accounting;fiscal transparency, budgets, public accounts, public finances
    Date: 2013–10–25
  17. By: Bezalel Peleg
    Abstract: We add two results to the theory of consistent voting. Let M be the set of all survivors of some feasible elimination procedure. We prove that i) M can be computed in polynomial time for each profile of preferences and ii) M is characterized by anonymity, non- imposition, Maskin monotonicity, and additive blocking.
    Date: 2013–10
  18. By: Gil S. Epstein (Bar-Ilan University); Yosef Mealem
    Abstract: Government intervention often gives rise to contests and the government can influence their outcome by choosing their type. We consider a contest with two interest groups: one that is governed by a central planner and one that is not. Rent dissipation is compared under two well-known contest success functions: the generalized logit and the all-pay auction. We also consider the case in which the government can limit the size of the non-governed interest group in order to determine the scope of rent dissipation, with the goal of either increasing the rent obtained by the government or reducing the wasted resources invested in the contest.
    Keywords: Rent dissipation, central planner, contest, all-pay auction, generalized logit contest success function
    JEL: D70 D71 D72
    Date: 2013–11
  19. By: Yegor Lazarev (Junior Research Fellow at the Laboratory for Comparative Social Studies, Higher School of Economics and Carnegie Visiting Scholar at the Center for Political Studies, University of Michigan;)
    Abstract: How do insecure property rights over land affect electoral competition and the level of violence? To answer this question, I explore original empirical evidence from Dagestan, Russia’s most turbulent North Caucasian republic. The exploration is based on a statistical analysis of district-level data with special emphasis on chronological validity. Studying the relationship between land titles of the Soviet period and post-Soviet amounts of tenured land, the research demonstrates that the amount of unregistered land in each district has a profound effect on local electoral competition and indices of violence. A higher percentage of untenured land at the district level leads to less electoral competition and more intense violence. Consequently, the study finds that the insecurity of property rights creates an opportunity structure for electoral patronage and violent expression of conflicts and grievances. In theoretical perspective this study sheds light upon a relatively unexplored institutional factor that drives electoral process and violence in predominantly agrarian societies
    Keywords: Dagestan, insecure property rights, electoral competition, level of violence.
    Date: 2013
  20. By: Bagchi, Sutirtha (University of Michigan); Svejnar, Jan (Columbia University)
    Abstract: A fundamental question in social sciences relates to the effect of wealth inequality on economic growth. Yet, in tackling the question, researchers have had to use income as a proxy for wealth. We derive a global measure of wealth inequality from Forbes magazine's listing of billionaires and compare its effect on growth to the effects of income inequality and poverty. We find that wealth inequality reduces economic growth, but when we control for the fact that some billionaires acquired wealth through political connections, the effect of politically connected wealth inequality is negative, while politically unconnected wealth inequality, income inequality, and initial poverty have no significant effect.
    Keywords: economic growth, wealth inequality, income inequality, billionaires, political connections
    JEL: D31 O40 O43
    Date: 2013–11

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