nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2014‒04‒11
twelve papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. Enfranchisement and Representation: Evidence from the Introduction of Quasi-Universal Suffrage in Italy By Valentino Larcinese
  2. Media competition and electoral politics By Florian Schuett; Amedeo Piolatto
  3. Voting Alone? The Political and Cultural Consequences of Commercial TV By Andrea Tesei; Paolo Pinotti; Ruben Durante
  4. One Mandarin Benefits the Whole Clan: Hometown Favoritism in an Authoritarian Regime By Quoc-Anh Do; Kieu-Trang Nguyen; Anh N. Tran
  5. The unsolved contradictions of the modernists. Economic policy expectations and political crisis in France 1978-2012. By Bruno Amable
  6. Energy market liberalisation and renewable energy policies in OECD countries By Francesco Vona; Francesco Nicolli
  7. Impact of Internal Migration On Political Participation in Turkey By Ali T. Akarca; Aysýt Tansel
  8. Voter response to natural disaster aid : quasi-experimental evidence from drought relief payments in Mexico By Fuchs, Alan; Rodriguez-Chamussy, Lourdes
  9. Deliberation, Leadership and Information Aggregation By Javier Rivas; Carmelo Rodríguez-Álvarez
  10. Strategic choice of stock pollution: Why conservatives (appear to) turn green By Voß, Achim
  11. On the Importance of Inequality in Politics: Duplicate Bills and Bill Co-sponsorship in the U.S. House of Representatives By David N. Laband; Richard Alan Seals, Jr.
  12. Does benefit/cost-efficiency influence transport investment decisions? By Eliasson, Jonas; Börjesson, Maria; Odeck, James; Welde, Morten

  1. By: Valentino Larcinese
    Abstract: What are the political consequences of introducing de jure political equality? Does it change patterns of political representation and the identity of elected legislators? This paper uses an important electoral reform passed in 1912 in Italy to provide evidence on these questions. The reform trebled the electorate (from slightly less than three million to 8.650.000) leaving electoral rules and district boundaries unchanged. By exploiting differences in enfranchisement rates across electoral districts we identify the effect of franchise extension on various political outcomes. Enfranchisement increased the vote share of left-wing social reformers but had no impact on their parliamentary representation, no impact on parliamentary representation of aristocracy and traditional elites and no effect on political competition. We show that left-wing parties decreased their vote shares and were systematically defeated in key swing districts. We document elite's effort to minimize the political impact of the reform and, in particular, we show that the Vatican's secret involvement in the post-reform electoral campaign had a substantial impact on voting results, although formerly and newly enfranchised voters were equally affected. We relate our results to economic theories of democratization, which appear to be only partially compatible with our evidence. Keywords: democratization, voting, electoral competition, inequality, swing districts, political violence, Vatican, socialism. JEL code: D72
    Date: 2014
  2. By: Florian Schuett (University of Tilburg); Amedeo Piolatto (Universidad de Alicante)
    Abstract: We build a framework linking competition in the media market to political participation. Media outlets report on the ability of candidates running for office and compete for audience through their choice of slant. Citizens consume news only if the expected utility of being informed about candidates' ability is sufficiently large for their group collectively. Our results can reconcile seemingly contradictory empirical evidence showing that entry in the media market can either increase or decrease turnout. While information pushes up independent turnout, partisans adjust their turnout to the ability of their preferred candidate, and on average they vote less when informed.
    Keywords: Demand for news, Electoral turnout, Group-rule utilitarianism, Media bias.
    JEL: D72 L82
    Date: 2014–03
  3. By: Andrea Tesei; Paolo Pinotti (Università Bocconi); Ruben Durante (Département d'économie)
    Abstract: We investigate the long-term impact of early exposure to Berlusconi’s commercial TV network, Mediaset, on voting behavior and civic engagement in Italy. To do so, we exploit differences in Mediaset signal reception across Italian municipalities due to the network’s staggered introduction over the national territory and to idiosyncratic geomorphological factors. We find that municipalities exposed to Mediaset prior to 1985 exhibit greater electoral support for Berlusconi’s party in 1994, when he first ran for office, relative to municipalities that were exposed only later on. This difference, estimated between 1 and 2 percentage points, is extremely robust and tends to persist in the following four elections. This effect can hardly be attributed to differential exposure to partisan news bias since, prior to 1985, content on Mediaset channels was dominated by light-entertainment programs and no news programs were broadcast until 1991, by which time the network was accessible to the entire population. Instead, we present evidence that early exposure to commercial TV was associated with a substantial decline in social capital consistent with the diffusion of a culture of individualism and civic disengagement that favored the political success of Berlusconi.
    Keywords: mass media, voting, civic engagement
    JEL: L82 D72 Z13
    Date: 2013–06
  4. By: Quoc-Anh Do (Département d'économie); Kieu-Trang Nguyen (London School of Economics); Anh N. Tran (Indiana University Bloomington)
    Abstract: Although patronage politics in democracies has been studied extensively, it is less understood in undemocratic regimes, where a large proportion of the world's population resides. To fill this gap, our paper studies how government officials in authoritarian Vietnam direct public resources toward their hometowns. We manually collect an exhaustive panel dataset of political promotions of officials from 2000 to 2010 and estimate their impact on public infrastructure in their rural hometowns. We obtain three main results. First, promotions of officials improve a wide range of infrastructure in their hometowns, including roads, markets, schools, radio stations, clean water and irrigation. This favoritism is pervasive among officials across different ranks, even among those without budget authority, suggesting informal channels of influence. Second, in contrast to pork-barrel politics in democratic parliaments, elected legislators have no power to exercise favoritism. Third, only home communes receive favors, while larger and more politically important home districts do not. This suggests that favoritism is likely motivated by officials’ social preferences for their hometowns rather than by political considerations.
    Date: 2013–03
  5. By: Bruno Amable (Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne & Institut Universitaire de France)
    Abstract: This paper analyses the French political crisis since the late 1970s by investigating the links between the social structure and the economic policy expectations of the electorate. To this end, data on post-electoral survey are used to estimate structural models of political support to political parties for 1978 and 2012, and the estimation results are used to propose an analysis of the French crisis. The enduring French political crisis is found to be the expression of contradictions between the economic policies implemented by the successive governments and the existence of a dominant social bloc, i.e. a coalition of social groups that would politically support the dominant political strategy. Since 1978, both the right and the left have failed to find a solution to the contradictions between the policies they implemented and the expectations of their social bases, which are themselves inhabited by tensions and contradictions that evolve with the structure of French capitalism. The failure of all governing coalitions so far is a new expression of that of the “modernists” to take into account the expectations of the popular classes.
    Keywords: France, political crisis, political economy, social base.
    JEL: P16
    Date: 2014–03
  6. By: Francesco Vona (OFCE); Francesco Nicolli (Facoltà di Economia (Faculty of Economics))
    Abstract: We analyse the impact of market liberalisation on renewable energy policies in OECD countries. To this end, we first develop an aggregated indicator of renewable energy policies using principal components analysis and then examine its determinants through panel datatechniques. Our resultsare consistent with the predictions of political-economy models of environmental policies, as brown lobbying, proxied by entry barriers in the energy sector, and citizens’ preferenceshave the expected effectson policy. Brown lobbying has a negative effect on the policy indicator, evenwhen accounting for endogeneity in its effects in a dynamic panel specification and using different policy indicators. Reducing income inequality, the ratification of the Kyoto protocol and stronger green parties all positively affect the approval of more ambitious policies but with less robust results.
    Keywords: Renewable Energy Policy; Energy Market Liberalisation; Political Economy
    JEL: Q42 Q48 O38 D72
    Date: 2013–07
  7. By: Ali T. Akarca (University of Illinois at Chicago); Aysýt Tansel (Middle East Technical University)
    Abstract: During last sixty years, Turkish population moved from one province to another at the rate of about 7-8 percent per five-year interval. As a consequence of this massive internal migration, population residing in a province other than the one they were born in increased from 12 percent in 1950 to 39 percent in 2011. Impact of this population instability on provincial turnout rates in 2011 parliamentary election is studied, controlling for the effects of other socio-economic, demographic, political and institutional factors. Consequences of migration both at destinations and origins are considered. According to robust regressions estimated, the relationship between turnout and education is inverse U-shaped, and between turnout and age, U-shaped. The latter reflects generational differences as well. Large population, large number parliament members to be elected from a constituency, participation by large number of parties, and existence of a dominant party depress the turnout rate. A percentage increase in the proportion of emigrants among the people born in a province reduces turnout rate in that province by 0.13 percentage points, while a percentage increase in the ratio of immigrants in the population of a province reduces it by 0.06 percentage points. However, at destinations where large numbers of immigrants from different regions are concentrated, the opportunity afforded to immigrants to elect one of their own, reduces the latter adverse impact significantly and in some cases turns it to positive.
    Keywords: Election turnout, internal migration, political participation, Turkey, voter behavior.
    Date: 2014
  8. By: Fuchs, Alan; Rodriguez-Chamussy, Lourdes
    Abstract: The paper estimates the effects on presidential election returns in Mexico of a government climatic contingency transfer that is allocated through rainfall-indexed insurance. The analysis uses the discontinuity in payments that slightly deviate from a pre-established threshold, based on rainfall accumulation measured at local weather stations. It turns out that voters reward the incumbent presidential party for delivering drought relief compensation. The paper finds that receiving indemnity payments leads to significantly greater average electoral support for the incumbent party of approximately 7.6 percentage points. The analysis suggests that the incumbent party is rewarded by disaster aid recipients and punished by non-recipients. The paper contributes to the literature on retrospective voting by providing evidence that voters evaluate government actions and respond to disaster spending.
    Keywords: Hazard Risk Management,Global Environment Facility,Natural Disasters,Technology Industry,Rural Poverty Reduction
    Date: 2014–04–01
  9. By: Javier Rivas (Department of Economics University of Bath); Carmelo Rodríguez-Álvarez (Departamento de Fundamentos del Análisis Económico II (Economía Cuantitativa) Facultad de Ciencias Económicas y Empresariales Universidad Complutense de Madrid; Instituto Complutense de Analisis Economico (ICAE) Facultad de Ciencias Económicas y Empresariales Universidad Complutense de Madrid)
    Abstract: We analyse committees of voters who take a decision between two options as a two- stage process. In a discussion stage, voters share non-verifiable information about a private signal concerning what is the best option. In a voting stage, votes are cast and one of the options is implemented. We introduce the possibility of leadership whereby a certain voter, the leader, is more influential than the rest at the discussion stage even though she is not better informed. We study information transmission and characterize the effects of the leader on the deliberation process. We find, amongst others, that both the quality of the decision taken by the committee and how truthful voters are at the discussion stage depends non-monotonically on how influential the leader is. In particular, although a leader whose influence is weak does not disrupt the decision process of the committee in any way, a very influential leader is less disruptive than a moderately influential leader.
    Keywords: Committees; Information Aggregation; Leadership; Voting.
    JEL: D71 D72 D82
    Date: 2013–11
  10. By: Voß, Achim
    Abstract: The public management of stock pollutants is an intertemporal problem; today's optimal choice takes the behavior of future governments into account. If a government expects a successor with different environmental preferences - for instance, if Conservatives expect green successors - it must choose strategically. I model this interaction in a two-period game in which the government of each period chooses consumption as a flow variable that adds to a stock of pollution. In this setting, I analyze how the prospect of losing political power changes the incumbent's policy choice. It is shown that both the prospect of a more conservative or of a greener successor reduce present consumption. This implies that losing power in the future makes a conservative government choose a compromise policy today - which may explain why in some countries, conservative governments seem to adopt green policies. By contrast, the expected loss of power makes a green government choose a policy that appears as a radicalization of their position. --
    Keywords: Stock Pollution,Political Economy of Environmental Policy,Time Inconsistency,Strategic choice of stock variables,Sequential Game,Partisan Politicians,Ideological Preferences,Green Parties
    JEL: Q58 D72 C72
    Date: 2014
  11. By: David N. Laband; Richard Alan Seals, Jr.
    Abstract: In this paper, we attempt to provide an economic explanation for the adoption of bill co-sponsorship by the U.S. House of Representatives in 1967. We demonstrate empirically that key features of legislative production prior to 1967 (when House members’ support for a bill was indicated by introduction of duplicate bills) and post-1967 (when political support for a bill is indicated by co-sponsorship) are strikingly similar. Specifically, the raw number of supporters of a bill, whether indicated by duplicate bills or by co-sponsorship, is not nearly as critical to advancement of that bill through the House of Representatives as is the political power of the individual who introduces it and those who support it. The relative sizes of these effects are highly consistent over time. In effect, this finding means that the underlying factors of importance in the House’s legislative production function did not change significantly when bill co-sponsorship was adopted. This suggests that the change in operating procedure may have been driven by an intra-chamber struggle to control the legislative outcomes. We present empirical evidence that is highly consistent with this hypothesis - - adoption of bill co-sponsorship in 1967 coincides exactly with the post-World War II peak in a concentration ratio of legislation passed in the U.S. House of Representatives. Prior to the 90th Congress, there was a more-or-less steady increase in concentration of legislation passed by the five busiest committees that peaked at over 0.4 in the 90th Congress and then declined precipitously to under 0.15 by the 93rd Congress.
    Keywords: Bill Co-Sponsorship; Bill Sponsorship; Bills Reported out of Committee; U.S. House of Representatives; Identical Bill Introduction; Credit Claiming
    JEL: H11 H30
    Date: 2014–04
  12. By: Eliasson, Jonas (KTH); Börjesson, Maria (KTH); Odeck, James (NTNU, Trondheim); Welde, Morten (NTNU, Trondheim)
    Abstract: We explore how benefit-cost efficiency and electoral support affect road investment decisions in Sweden and Norway. In Norway, neither benefits nor costs seem to affect project selection. In Sweden, civil servants’ decisions are strongly affected by projects’ benefit-cost ratios, with a stronger effect for more expensive projects, while politicians’ decisions are only weakly affected, and only for small projects. In both countries, governments tend to favour investments in regions where they enjoy strong local electoral support. Using cost efficiency as a final selection criterion seems to filter out many inefficient projects already at an early stage of the planning process. We argue that even if political decisionmakers are apparently mostly governed by other concerns than cost efficiency, civil servants at the administrations should not shy away from preparing efficient project suggestions for decisionmakers to choose from.
    Keywords: Cost benefit analysis; Project appraisal; Public decision making; Transport investments
    JEL: H43 R42 R48
    Date: 2014–04–01

This nep-pol issue is ©2014 by Eugene Beaulieu. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.