nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2014‒06‒14
eight papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. Mr. Rossi, Mr. Hu and Politics: The Role of Immigration in Shaping Natives' Political Preferences By Barone, Guglielmo; D'Ignazio, Alessio; de Blasio, Guido; Naticchioni, Paolo
  2. Voting power in the Electoral College: The noncompetitive states count, too By Brams, Steven J; Kilgour, D. Marc
  3. Measuring de facto versus de iure political institutions in the long-run: a multivariate statistical approach By Foldvari, Peter
  4. Crime and Punishment the British way: Accountability Channels Following the MPs’ Expenses Scandal By Valentino Larcinese; Indraneel Sircar
  5. Maritime Piracy: Socio-Economic, Political, and Institutional Determinants By Thomas Gries; Margarete Redlin
  6. Price volatility and the political economy of resource-rich nations By Ahmed Saber, Mahmud; Syed Abul, Basher
  7. Rent-Seeking and Reform: Relationship Revisited By Marjit, Sugata; Mukherjee, Vivekananda
  8. Measuring Polarization in Preferences By Burak Can; Ali Ihsan Ozkes; Ton Storcken

  1. By: Barone, Guglielmo (Bank of Italy); D'Ignazio, Alessio (Bank of Italy); de Blasio, Guido (Bank of Italy); Naticchioni, Paolo (University of Rome 3)
    Abstract: We analyze the impact of immigration on voting. Using Italian municipality data and IV estimation strategy, we find that immigration generates a sizable causal increase in votes for the centre-right coalition, which has a political platform less favorable to immigrants. Additional findings are: big cities behave differently, with no impact of immigration on electoral outcomes; gains in votes for the centre-right coalition correspond to loss of votes for the centre-left parties, a decrease in voter turnout, and a rise in protest votes; cultural diversity, competition in the labor market and for public services are the most relevant channels at work.
    Keywords: immigration, voting, political economy
    JEL: D72 P16 J61
    Date: 2014–05
  2. By: Brams, Steven J; Kilgour, D. Marc
    Abstract: In U.S. presidential elections, voters in noncompetitive states seem not to count—and so have zero voting power, according to the Banzhaf and other voting-power indices—because they cannot influence the outcome in their states. But because the electoral votes of these states are essential to a candidate's victory, it seems that they do count, but in a different way. We measure the power of voters in noncompetitive states by modeling how these states structure the contest in the competitive states, as illustrated in the 2012 election. Barack Obama’s lead of 46 electoral votes over Mitt Romney in the 41 noncompetitive states and the District of Columbia gave him 5.5 times as many ways of winning in the 9 competitive states as Romney had. Also, Romney’s winning coalitions were weaker by two additional measures: They were 2.4 times more vulnerable, and 5.5 times more fragile than Obama’s. Compared with being tied with Romney in the noncompetitive states, Obama’s lead in these states contributed very substantially to his victory.
    Keywords: US presidential elections; Electoral College; voting power
    JEL: C71 C78 D63
    Date: 2014–05
  3. By: Foldvari, Peter
    Abstract: In this paper we use the components of the PolityIV project’s polity2 and Vanhanen’s Index of Democracy indicators to analyse the relationship between de iure and de facto political institutions from 1820 until 2000 with a canonical correlation method, and a correction for the sample selection bias, caused by the change in the number of available countries. We find considerably fluctuation in the relationship between the two measures and that much of the observed correlation is due to the sample selection bias. The relationship becomes strong and positive only in the second half of the 20th century.
    Keywords: democratization, de facto and de iure institutions, canonical correlation, Polity IV, Vanhanen’s Index of Democracy
    JEL: N40 O17
    Date: 2014–06–10
  4. By: Valentino Larcinese; Indraneel Sircar
    Abstract: Does democracy make politicians accountable? The UK expenses scandal of May 2009 constitutes an ideal setting to answer this question, since it allows credible ceteris paribus comparisons. We show that scandal-related press coverage significantly increased the probability of an MP to retire, reduced vote shares of standing MPs, but did not decrease their re-election probability. We also show that punishment was directed to individual MPs involved in the scandal rather than their parties. An objective monetary measure of malfeasance from an official report explains press coverage but has no independent effect on MPs’ retirement or vote shares. We show that voters perceive co-partisan MPs to be less involved than other MPs. Finally we analyse coverage of the scandal by seven national newspapers and conclude that the press worked as a watchdog by focussing on the government and on frontbenchers of the main opposition party, with little role for ideological leanings. Our study also uncovers a substantial gender bias: ceteris paribus, female MPs received more media attention and, for the same level of media attention, were more likely to stand down.
    Date: 2014
  5. By: Thomas Gries (University of Paderborn); Margarete Redlin (University of Paderborn)
    Abstract: Over the last twenty years piracy has become an increasing threat. Yet there are only very few econometric studies that examine under which conditions this phenomenon arises. As the number of maritime piracy and armed robbery incidents is characterized as count data and exhibits overdispersion, we apply random-effects negative binomial regressions for a panel dataset covering the period 1991-2010. Our results indicate that poor socio-economic, political, and institutional conditions in the host country increase the likelihood of piracy attacks.
    Keywords: Maritime Piracy, Economic Development
    JEL: C25 F51 P16 O10
    Date: 2014–01
  6. By: Ahmed Saber, Mahmud; Syed Abul, Basher
    Abstract: This paper attempts to understand how price volatility affects the political transition of a resource-rich nation. Two states reflect price volatility: 'high prices' and 'low prices'. We argue that whether or not political transition (i.e., a switch from one regime to another) will take place in a particular state depends critically on the kind of goods a country produces. If the main economic activity in a country is the extraction of "point-source" resources such as oil that demands capital-intensive production, the opportunity cost of switching the existing regime does not alter if the price of the resource changes but the benefit becomes more lucrative. Therefore, the incumbent group is most vulnerable during 'high prices'. If the main economic activity of the nations is the production of "diffused resources" that requires labor such as coffee, prices do affect the opportunity cost. Nations concentrating in these commodities, face acute political crisis during downturns.
    Keywords: Price volatility; Natural resources; Political systems.
    JEL: O13
    Date: 2014–06–10
  7. By: Marjit, Sugata; Mukherjee, Vivekananda
    Abstract: The paper revisits the relationship been reform and corruption. We consider a scenario where less efficient domestic and more efficient foreign firms engaged in Cournot competition bribe the local authorities. The local firm pays for imposing a cost to the foreigners, the foreign firm pays so that the local competitor does not get overwhelming advantage. Local authorities, political or otherwise, decide an optimal level of ‘cost’ to be inflicted on the foreign firms which maximize their pay-offs from both. We show that in this set up we may have an equilibrium where drastic reform will be consistent with maximizing rent and therefore an aggressively reformist policy maker can turn out to be extremely corrupt. Interestingly this also exhibits the case where consumers’ welfare increases with reform, although local producers suffer. In general policy makers decision to choose moderate or drastic reforms depend on the degree of efficiency of the local firm.
    Keywords: Trade, Rent-seeking, Corruption, Reform
    JEL: F1 H1 L1
    Date: 2014
  8. By: Burak Can (School of Business and Economics, Maastricht University - Department of Economics); Ali Ihsan Ozkes (Department of Economics, Ecole Polytechnique - CNRS : UMR7176 - Polytechnique - X, Department of Economics, Bilgi University - Istanbul Bilgi University); Ton Storcken (Department of Quantitative Economics, Maastricht University - (-))
    Abstract: In this paper, we study the measurement of polarization in collective decision making problems with ordinal preferences over alternatives. We argue that polarization can be measured as an aggregation of antagonisms over pairs of alternatives in the society. We propose a measure of this sort and show that it is the only measure satisfying some normatively appealing conditions.
    Date: 2014–06–02

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