nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2014‒08‒25
ten papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. Guns and Votes By Bouton, Laurent; Conconi, Paola; Pino, Francisco; Zanardi, Maurizio
  2. Politics Before Pupils? Electoral Cycles and School Resources in India By Fagernäs, Sonja; Pelkonen, Panu
  3. Markovian Elections By Jean Guillaume Forand; John Duggan
  4. Does Violence Pay? The Effect of Ethnic Rebellion on Overcoming Political Deprivation By Carlo Koos
  5. Does Political Reservation for Minorities Affect Child Labor? Evidence from India By Elizabeth Kaletski; Nishith Prakash
  6. Does the Gender of Offspring Affect Parental Political Orientation? By Byungkyu Lee; Dalton Conley
  7. “What an Ungrateful Lot They Are: The Electoral Impact of Federal Budgets” By Davis, Brent
  8. The Effect of Corruption on Migration, 1985-2000 By Eugen Dimant; Tim Krieger; Daniel Meierriecks
  9. James Buchanan's theory of federalism: From fiscal equity to the ideal political order By Feld, Lars P.
  10. Democratisation in Africa: The Role of Self-Enforcing Constitutional Rules By Sophia du Plessis, Ada Jansen and Krige Siebrits

  1. By: Bouton, Laurent; Conconi, Paola; Pino, Francisco; Zanardi, Maurizio
    Abstract: Why are U.S. congressmen reluctant to support gun control regulations, despite the fact that most Americans are in favor of them? We argue that re-election motives can help explain why politicians often take a pro-gun stance against the interests of the majority of the electorate. We describe a model in which an incumbent politician must decide on a primary issue, which is more important to a majority of voters, and a secondary issue, which a minority cares more intensely about. We derive conditions under which the politician, when approaching re-election, will pander towards the interests of the minority on the secondary issue. To assess the evidence, we exploit the staggered structure of the U.S. Senate— in which one third of members face re-election every two years—and examine senators’ voting behavior on gun control. In line with the model’s predictions, we obtain three main results: senators are more likely to vote pro gun when they are closer to facing re-election; this behavior is driven by Democratic senators, who “flip flop” on gun control; election proximity has no impact on the voting behavior of senators who are retiring or hold safe seats.
    Keywords: Elections; Gun-control regulations; Pandering; Vocal minority
    JEL: D72 I18
    Date: 2013–11
  2. By: Fagernäs, Sonja (University of Sussex); Pelkonen, Panu (University of Sussex)
    Abstract: Primary education in India is a development question of a unique magnitude, and the delivery of education by Indian states is often suspected to be marred by political haggling and corruption. Using rich administrative school-level panel data across Indian states, we test for electoral cycles in the provision of school resources. The effects are identified using staggered timing of state elections. We find that rulers allocate more primary school resources in the years preceding and following elections, but there is only weak evidence that resources are targeted to marginal constituencies. The resources affected are visible ones, namely free school uniforms, classrooms, toilets, ramps for the disabled and medical inspections. We also show that around election years, teachers spend more time on "non-teaching" activities. The political cycles are not inevitable, as they are present only in districts characterised by low voter turnout and low female literacy. Finally, we show that electoral cycles affect human capital accumulation: The phase of the electoral cycle in which pupils begin their primary schooling, affects their learning outcomes.
    Keywords: institutions, school resources, political cycle, public goods, voter turnout, India
    JEL: H75 I25 O15 P16
    Date: 2014–08
  3. By: Jean Guillaume Forand (University of Waterloo); John Duggan (University of Rochester)
    Abstract: We establish existence and continuity properties of equilibria in a model of dynamic elections with a discrete (countable) state space and general policies and preferences. We provide conditions under which there is a representative voter in each state, and we give characterization results in terms of the equilibria of an associated “representative voting game.†When the conditions for these results are not met, we provide examples that uncover new classes of dynamic political failures.
    Date: 2014
  4. By: Carlo Koos (GIGA Institute of African Affairs)
    Abstract: Studies have found that politically deprived groups are more likely to rebel. However, does rebellion increase the likelihood of achieving political rights? This article proposes that rebellion helps ethnic groups to overcome deprivation. I illustrate this by using a “typical” case (the Ijaw’s struggle against the Nigerian government) to demonstrate how ethnic rebellion increases the costs for the government to a point where granting political rights becomes preferable to war. Further, I exploit time-series-cross-sectional data on deprived ethnic groups to show that rebellion is significantly associated with overcoming deprivation. The statistical analysis shows that democratic change is an alternative mechanism.
    Keywords: political deprivation, ethnic conflict, violence, effectiveness
    Date: 2014–03
  5. By: Elizabeth Kaletski (University of Connecticut); Nishith Prakash (University of Connecticut)
    Abstract: This paper examines the relationship between elected minority representatives, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, and health worker visits in rural India. We estimate the effect of minority representation on the frequency of visits to villages by health workers by exploiting the state variation in the share of seats reserved for the two groups in state legislative assemblies mandated by the Constitution of India. Using data from state and village level surveys on fifteen major Indian states, we find that Schedule Tribe representatives increase the frequency of visits by both doctors and mobile medical units. On the other hand, Scheduled Caste representatives have a tendency to decrease the frequency of visits by mobile medical units. Potential explanations for the differential impact of SC and ST representatives are also explored, including geographic isolation, support for the Congress Party, and relative population shares.
    Keywords: Affirmative action, Minorities, Health, Public goods provision, India
    JEL: I18 I38 J15
    Date: 2014–08
  6. By: Byungkyu Lee; Dalton Conley
    Abstract: Recently, the sex of child has been widely used as a natural experiment and shown to induce change of the allegedly stable political predisposition, however, prior results have been contradictory: in the U.K., researchers found that having daughters leads to parents favoring left-wing political parties and to holding more liberal views on family/gender roles, whereas in the U.S. scholars found that daughters were associated with more Republican (rightist) party identification and more conservative views on teen sexuality. Here, we utilize data from the General Social Survey and the European Social Survey to test the robustness of effects of offspring sex on parental political orientation while factoring out country and period differences. In analysis of 36 countries, we obtain null effects of the sex of the first child on party identification as well as on political ideology. Further, we observe no evidence of heterogeneous treatment effects. We discuss the implications of these null findings for theories of political socialization.
    JEL: D1 J13
    Date: 2014–08
  7. By: Davis, Brent
    Abstract: This paper challenges the conventional wisdom that major fiscal policy announcements, in the form of the annual Budget, has a major and lasting impact on voter support for the incumbent government. Rather, reforming governments can ignore the media hysteria that they are 'electorally doomed' given voter's seeming short memory of such events.
    Keywords: economic voting; fiscal policy; voter behaviour
    JEL: K0
    Date: 2014–08–20
  8. By: Eugen Dimant (University of Paderborn); Tim Krieger (University of Freiburg); Daniel Meierriecks (University Freiburg)
    Abstract: We examine the influence of corruption on migration for 111 countries between 1985 and 2000. Robust evidence indicates that corruption is among the push factors of migration, especially fueling skilled migration. We argue that corruption tends to diminish the returns to education, which is particularly relevant to the better educated.
    Keywords: Corruption, Migration, Skilled Migration, Push Factors of Migration
    JEL: D73 F22 O15
    Date: 2013–03
  9. By: Feld, Lars P.
    Abstract: The distinct characteristic in James Buchanan's thinking about federalism in contrast to the traditional theory of fiscal federalism is his view about fiscal competition. In this paper, it is demonstrated that this thinking went through three stages. From the 1950s to the beginning of the 1970s, his analyses were well embedded in the traditional fiscal federalism literature and concerned with equity and efficiency issues. In the Leviathan approach starting from the midseventies, he considered competition between jurisdictions as a means to restrict Leviathan governments. In his interpretation of federalism as an ideal political order, Buchanan binds these perspectives together and adds a procedural view: Federalism enables citizens to exert political control, it raises their interest in politics because one vote has more influence, and it facilitates to act morally within their moral capacity. --
    Keywords: James Buchanan,Fiscal Equity,Fiscal Competition,Federalism as Political Order
    JEL: H77 B31 D78
    Date: 2014
  10. By: Sophia du Plessis, Ada Jansen and Krige Siebrits
    Abstract: Following several decades during which violent civil conflict was common in African countries, the period from 1990 onwards was notably marked by a spreading and deepening of adherence to democratic principles. However, it is true to say that many African countries are still experiencing political instability and civil unrest. This raises the question of why these countries cannot attain sustainable conflict resolution. Drawing on economic ideas about contracts and institutions, this paper outlines a conceptual framework for thinking about the role of constitutional rules in achieving political stability, and we elucidate the main requirement for sustainable democratic systems. The gist of the argument is that constitutional rules must become self-enforcing in order to safeguard democratic systems and to avoid relapses into violent civil conflict. We discuss selective examples where constitutions do not adhere to the framework of self-enforcement, making them unable to prevent the recurrence of civil war in these countries
    Keywords: Constitutional rules, self-enforcing constitutions, informal institutions, Democracy, civil war, Africa
    JEL: D7 N4 N9
    Date: 2014

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