nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2014‒06‒22
nine papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. From Rebellion to Electoral Violence: Evidence from Burundi By Andrea Colombo; Olivia D'Aoust; Olivier Sterck
  3. E-lections: Voting Behavior and the Internet By Oliver Falck; Robert Gold; Stephan Heblich
  4. Ignorance and bias in collective decision:Theory and experiments By Alexander Elvitar; Andrei Gomberg; César Martinelli; Thomas R. Palfrey
  5. The Dictator's Inner Circle By Patrick Francois; Ilia Rainer; Francesco Trebbi
  6. Endogenous party platforms; "Stochastic" Membership By Andrei Gomberg; Francisco Marhuenda; Ignacio Ortuño-Ortín
  7. Does Democracy Impact Economic Growth? Exploring the Case of Bangladesh – A Cointegrated VAR Approach By Dasgupta, Shouro; Bhattacharya, Debapriya; Neethi, Dwitiya Jawher
  8. Clientelism and ethnic divisions By Isaksson, Ann-Sofie; Bigsten, Arne
  9. Synthetic ‘Real Socialism’: A Counterfactual Analysis of Political and Economic Liberalizations By Ilaria Petrarca; Roberto Ricciuti

  1. By: Andrea Colombo; Olivia D'Aoust; Olivier Sterck
    Abstract: We aim at understanding the triggers of electoral violence, which spoiled 80% of elections in Africa during the last decades. We focus on Burundi, a country which experienced polls in 2010, only few months after the end of a long-lasting civil war. Our results suggest that higher polarization between ex-rebels’ groups increases the risk of electoral violence at the municipal level. However, neither ethnic nor political cleavages significantly determine such electoral malpractices. These results are robust to numerous specifications. We therefore argue that policies supporting the transition of ex-rebel groups from warfare to the political arena should be reinforced.
    Keywords: Civil war, Electoral violence, Polarization, Demobilization, Burundi
    JEL: D74 O11 O17 O55
    Date: 2014
  2. By: Felipe Carozzi (CEMFI, Centro de Estudios Monetarios y Financieros); Luca Repetto (CEMFI, Centro de Estudios Monetarios y Financieros)
    Abstract: We ask whether the birthplaces of Italian members of Parliament are favoured in the allocation of central government transfers. Using a panel of municipalities for the years between 1994 and 2006, we find that municipal governments of legislators' birth towns receive larger transfers per capita. Exploiting the fact that some birth towns are outside of the district of election, we conclude that this result cannot be driven by re-election incentives. On the contrary, we show that these incentives discourage legislators from diverting resources to their birthplace. We present evidence that those transfers are a way for a politician to prepare the ground for a post-congressional career in the municipal administration.
    Keywords: Pork-barrel, distributive policies, political economy.
    JEL: H72 H77 D72
    Date: 2014–03
  3. By: Oliver Falck; Robert Gold; Stephan Heblich
    Abstract: This paper analyses the effects on voting behavior of information disseminated over the Internet. We address endogeneity in Internet availability by exploiting regional and technological peculiarities of the preexisting voice telephony network that hindered the roll-out of fixed-line infrastructure for high-speed Internet. We find negative effects of Internet availability on voter turnout, which we relate to a crowding-out of TV consumption and increased entertainment consumption. We find no evidence that the Internet systematically benefits specific parties, suggesting ideological self-segregation in online information consumption. Robustness tests, including placebo estimations from the pre-Internet period, support a causal interpretation of our results.
    Keywords: Elections, Mass Media, Internet.
    JEL: D72 L82 L86
    Date: 2014–06
  4. By: Alexander Elvitar (Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas, (CIDE)); Andrei Gomberg (Centro de Investigación Económica (CIE), Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM)); César Martinelli (Centro de Investigación Económica (CIE), Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM)); Thomas R. Palfrey (California Institute of Technology)
    Abstract: We consider a committee with common interests. Committee members do not know which of two alternatives is the best, but each member may acquire privately a costly signal before casting a vote under either majority or unanimity rule. In the lab, as predicted by Bayesian equilibrium, voters are more likely to acquire information under majority rule, and attempt to counter the bias built in favor of one alternative under unanimity rule. As opposed to Bayesian equilibrium predictions, however, some committee members vote for either alternative when uninformed. Moreover, uninformed voting is correlated with a lower disposition to acquire information. We show that an equilibrium model of subjective prior beliefs may account for this correlation, and provides a good fit for the observed patterns of behavior both in terms of rational ignorance and biases.
    Keywords: Condorcet jury theorem, rational ignorance, homemade priors
    JEL: D72 D83
    Date: 2014
  5. By: Patrick Francois; Ilia Rainer; Francesco Trebbi
    Abstract: We posit the problem of an autocrat who has to allocate access to the executive positions in his inner circle and define the career profile of his own insiders. Statically, granting access to an executive post to a more experienced subordinate increases political returns to the post, but is more threatening to the leader in case of a coup. Dynamically, the leader monitors the capacity of staging a coup by his subordinates, which grows over time, and the incentives of trading a subordinate’s own position for a potential shot at the leadership, which defines the incentives of staging a palace coup for each member of the inner circle. We map these theoretical elements into structurally estimable hazard functions of terminations of cabinet ministers for a panel of postcolonial Sub-Saharan African countries. The hazard functions initially increase over time, indicating that most government insiders quickly wear out their welcome, and then drop once the minister is fully entrenched in the current regime. We argue that the survival concerns of the leader in granting access to his inner circle can cover much ground in explaining the widespread lack of competence of African governments and the vast heterogeneity of political performance between and within these regimes.
    JEL: H11 P16 P48
    Date: 2014–06
  6. By: Andrei Gomberg (Centro de Investigación Económica (CIE), Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM)); Francisco Marhuenda (Department of Economics, Universidad Carlos III); Ignacio Ortuño-Ortín (Department of Economics, Universidad Carlos III)
    Abstract: We analyze existence of divergent equilibria in a model of endogenous party platforms with stochastic membership, while the membership depends bothon the proposals of the parties and the unobserved idiosyncratic preferecnces of citizens over parties. It is shown that when citizens view the parties as similar, apart from their policy proposals (i.e., the party platform is a good predictor of individual membership decision). the divergent equilibria exist. We analyze the relationship between parties policy proposals and the unobserved idiosyncratic characteristics of parties and we obtain conclusions different from the ones prvovided in existing literature.
    Date: 2013
  7. By: Dasgupta, Shouro; Bhattacharya, Debapriya; Neethi, Dwitiya Jawher
    Abstract: The key socioeconomic indicators of Bangladesh have apparently experienced improvement since the advent of a new phase of democracy in 1991. This paper examines the impact of democracy on economic growth in Bangladesh using a cointegrated Vector Autoregressive model. Results suggest that democracy as practiced in Bangladesh does not seem to have a significantly positive impact on economic growth, and at the same time authoritarian regimes tend to have a significantly negative impact on economic growth. Inadequate democratic decision making practices, ineffective policy designs and weak policy making institutions are some of the likely causes behind this relationship. The situation is aggravated by the fact that the institutions do not positively alter the decision making behaviour even under democratically elected regimes.
    Keywords: Democracy, Economic Growth. Cointegration, VAR, and Polity IV
    JEL: C10 C12 C51 E13 O43
    Date: 2013–09
  8. By: Isaksson, Ann-Sofie (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University); Bigsten, Arne (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University)
    Abstract: In light of the empirical evidence on clientelism and ethno-regional favouritism in African politics, the present paper examines the relationship between ethnic divisions and clientelism. Specifically, we ask whether – and what type of – ethnic divisions affect the experiences with, perceived prevalence of, and attitudes to clientelism. Empirical findings drawing on data for more than 20 000 respondents across 15 African countries challenge the dominant role of ethnic divisions for clientelist practices in Africa. Contextual measures of ethnic fragmentation and ethnic identification are found to have limited explanatory power for the concerned clientelism outcomes, and, considering possible subjects of ethno-regional favouritism, the empirical findings point more to the relevance of regional than ethnically based targeting of clientelist transfers.
    Keywords: Clientelism; vote buying; ethnic divisions; Africa
    JEL: D72 O12 O55
    Date: 2014–06
  9. By: Ilaria Petrarca (Department of Economics (University of Verona)); Roberto Ricciuti (Department of Economics (University of Verona))
    Abstract: We evaluate the effect of the 1989 shock over economic development in four Eastern European countries. We apply a counterfactual approach and define the shock alternatively as the trigger for economic openness, political competition, or both. The main result is an effect of economic freedom large than the one of democratization. In Poland and Bulgaria we find a positive impact of economic freedom, while in Bulgaria there is also a smaller effect of democratization. In Albania, after an initial recession, economic freedom helps recovery. Finally, Romania does not show any robust effect.
    Keywords: economics of transition; synthetic control estimator; democratization; economic freedom.
    JEL: C21 C23 O11 O43 P27
    Date: 2014–06

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