nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2015‒09‒05
eighteen papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. Fighting Crime with a Little Help from my Friends: Political Alignment, Inter-Jurisdictional Cooperation and Crime in Mexico By Durante, Ruben; Gutierrez, Emilio
  2. Education and electoral participation: Reported versus actual voting behaviour By Ivar Kolstad; Arne Wiig
  3. Voter Suppression or Voter Fraud in the 2014 US Elections? By Norris, Pippa; Garnett, Holly Ann
  4. Vetoing and inaugurating policy like others do: Evidence on spatial interactions in voter initiatives By Asatryan, Zareh; Havlik, Annika; Streif, Frank
  5. Mediocracy By Mattozzi, Andrea; Merlo, Antonio
  6. The Motivating Power of Under-Confidence: "The Race Is Close But We're Losing" By Rogers, Todd; Moore, Don A.
  7. Elite behaviour and citizen mobilization By Ivar Kolstad; Arne Wiig
  8. Information, Popular Constraint, and the Democratic Peace By Potter, Philip B. K.; Baum, Matthew A.
  9. Losing Hurts: The Happiness Impact of Partisan Electoral Loss By Pierce, Lamar; Rogers, Todd; Snyder, Jason A.
  10. The Year in Elections, 2014 By Norris, Pippa; Martinez i Coma, Ferran; Gromping, Max
  11. External Validation of Voter Turnout Models by Concealed Parameter Recovery By Merlo, Antonio; Palfrey, Thomas R.
  12. The Politics of Selecting the Bench from the Bar: The Legal Profession and Partisan Incentives to Politicize the Judiciary By Bonica, Adam; Sen, Maya
  13. The Political Legacy of American Slavery By Acharya, Avidit; Blackwell, Matthew; Sen, Maya
  14. Explaining Attitudes from Behavior: A Cognitive Dissonance Approach By Acharya, Avidit; Blackwell, Matthew; Sen, Maya
  15. Political economics of external sovereign defaults By Achury, Carolina; Koulovatianos, Christos; Tsoukalas, John
  16. Influence of Public Opinion on Investor Voting and Proxy Advisors By Aggarwal, Reena; Erel, Isil; Starks, Laura T.
  17. On the Fast Track: The Spread of Gender Quota Policies for Elected Office By Norris, Pippa; Dahlerup, Drude
  18. In search for political consciousness : the role of workers' education By Sauviat, Luciole

  1. By: Durante, Ruben; Gutierrez, Emilio
    Abstract: We investigate the relationship between inter-jurisdictional cooperation and law enforcement in Mexico. Exploiting a Regression Discontinuity Design in close municipal elections, we study how improved opportunities for cooperation in crime prevention among neighboring municipalities - proxied by the degree of political alignment between mayors - may result in lower rates of violent crime. We find that municipalities in which the party in power in the majority of neighboring jurisdictions barely won experience significantly lower homicide rates during the mayor's mandate than those in which it barely lost. This effect is sizeable and robust, is increasing in the share of neighboring municipalities governed by the same party, is independent of which party governs the neighboring municipalities, and does not appear to be driven by improved cooperation with either federal or state authorities.
    Keywords: crime; inter-jurisdictional cooperation; law enforcement; Mexico; political parties
    JEL: H11 H41 H7
    Date: 2015–08
  2. By: Ivar Kolstad; Arne Wiig
    Abstract: Using survey data of voters in Tanzania, this paper shows that while education does not affect self-reported voting in general elections, it increases actual voting. The less educated are more likely to claim to have voted without having done so, which may explain why previous studies of voting in developing countries fail to find an effect of education. We demonstrate the importance of this finding by using our survey data to generate predicted voting probabilities for the respondents to the 2012 Afrobarometer survey in Tanzania, and show that while mean self-reported voting does not differ much at different levels of education, the differences become significant when taking into account voting misrepresentation.
    Keywords: Voting, elections, participation, education, Tanzania
    Date: 2015
  3. By: Norris, Pippa (Harvard University and University of Sydney); Garnett, Holly Ann (McGill University)
    Abstract: During recent years, U.S. states have often diverged by adopting either more lenient or stricter electoral procedures. What have been the consequences of these laws for the risks of voter suppression or voter fraud? Heated partisan debate surrounds this question. To consider new evidence, the paper studies variations in the logistical costs of registration and balloting in state laws to generate the most appropriate within-country comparison. Part I sets out the conceptual and theoretical framework. Part II describes the research design that takes advantage of a new dataset, PEI-US-2014, based on an expert survey of Perceptions of Electoral Integrity conducted in 21 U.S. states immediately after the 2014 U.S. Congressional elections. This data is combined with a new Convenience Election Laws Index (CEL) summarizing variations in the leniency of state laws for registering and voting. Multilevel (HLM) analysis is used to compare the state-level CEL index against expert evaluations of the integrity of the registration and voting process. Part III presents the results of the analysis. The conclusion in Part IV draws together the major findings and considers their implications.
    Date: 2015–07
  4. By: Asatryan, Zareh; Havlik, Annika; Streif, Frank
    Abstract: A sizeable literature studies whether governments strategically interact with each other through policy-diffusion, learning, fiscal and yardstick competition. This paper asks whether, in the presence of direct democratic institutions, spatial interactions additionally result from voters' direct actions. The proposed mechanism is that the voters' actions in vetoing a decision or inaugurating a preferred policy by a binding initiative in their jurisdiction can potentially have spillover effects on the actions of voters and special interest groups of neighboring jurisdictions. Utilizing data on around 1,800 voter-petitions across over 12,000 German municipalities in 2002-09, we find that a jurisdiction's probability of hosting a petition is positively driven by the neighbors' direct democratic activity. These effects are persistent, and are stronger for more visible instruments of direct democracy. The interactions are also mostly driven by petitions in same or similiar policy areas, and are stronger in towns with relatively more per capita newspapers.
    Keywords: direct democracy,spatial spillovers,policy diffusion,citizen preferences
    JEL: D72 D78 R50
    Date: 2015
  5. By: Mattozzi, Andrea (European University Institute, Florence and MOVE, Florence); Merlo, Antonio (Rice University)
    Abstract: We study the recruitment of individuals in the political sector. We propose an equilibrium model of political recruitment by two political parties competing in an election. We show that political parties may deliberately choose to recruit only mediocre politicians, in spite of the fact that they could select better individuals. Furthermore, we show that this phenomenon is more likely to occur in proportional than in majoritarian electoral systems.
    JEL: D72
    Date: 2014
  6. By: Rogers, Todd (Harvard University); Moore, Don A. (University of CA, Berkeley)
    Abstract: Should political campaigns in close races communicate that they may win (over-confidence) or that they may lose (under-confidence)? In six studies (three survey experiments, two field experiments, and one archival study) we demonstrate the motivating power of under-confidence. While uncommitted voters show bandwagon effects (prefer candidates who are barely winning as opposed to barely losing), supporters show the opposite (greater motivation when their preferred candidate is barely losing as opposed to barely winning). Two fundraising email field experiments (1M+ observations) show a large effect size: emphasizing polls that show that a preferred candidate was barely losing raised 55% more than emphasizing polls that show that he was barely winning. The 2012 Obama and Romney campaigns' emails reflect this insight: they were more likely to send emails reporting that they were barely losing than that they were barely winning. Sometimes leaders are more effective appearing under-confident rather than over-confident.
    Date: 2014–10
  7. By: Ivar Kolstad; Arne Wiig
    Abstract: This paper studies the relation between self-serving elite behaviour and citizen political participation. We use a fixed effects approach to analyze the association between portfolio investment in tax havens and voter turnout, using data from 213 parliamentary elections in 65 countries for the period 1998-2014. For well-functioning democracies, we find a positive relation between the use of tax havens and voter turnout, suggesting that self-serving elite behaviour is associated with citizen political mobilization rather than voter apathy. The estimated relationship is stronger in the period after the 2008 economic crisis, when elite behaviour was a particularly salient issue.
    Keywords: Elites, citizens, portfolio investment, tax havens, voter turnout,political economy
    Date: 2015
  8. By: Potter, Philip B. K. (University of MI); Baum, Matthew A. (Harvard University)
    Abstract: Politicians and scholars have long argued that democracies are less prone to international conflict, at least with other democracies. However, while there is widespread acceptance of this "law" in international affairs, the theoretical mechanism that drives it remains opaque. We argue that the distinctive behavior of democracies arises from very specific features of their political institutions that can facilitate (or hinder) the transmission of information between leaders and the public. Specifically, popular constraint on executive action relies on robust partisan opposition that can blow the whistle on foreign policy failures, and media institutions that can effectively relay this information to the voting public. Crucially, not all democracies are alike when it comes to these institutions, meaning that the "democratic peace" may not actually apply equally to all. We find support for these propositions in time series, cross-sectional analyses of conflict initiation from 1965 to 2006.
    Date: 2014–02
  9. By: Pierce, Lamar (Washington University in St Louis); Rogers, Todd (Harvard University); Snyder, Jason A. (UCLA)
    Abstract: Partisan identity shapes social, mental, economic, and physical life. Using a novel dataset, we study the consequences of partisan identity by examining the immediate impact of electoral loss and victory on happiness and sadness. Employing a quasi-experimental regression discontinuity model we present two primary findings. First, elections strongly affect the immediate happiness/sadness of partisan losers, but minimally impact partisan winners. This effect is consistent with psychological research on the good-bad hedonic asymmetry, but appears to dissipate within a week after the election. Second, the immediate happiness consequences to partisan losers are relatively strong. To illustrate, we show that partisans are affected two times more by their party losing the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election than both respondents with children were to the Newtown shootings and respondents living in Boston were to the Boston Marathon bombings. We discuss implications regarding the centrality of partisan identity to the self and its well-being.
    Date: 2015–03
  10. By: Norris, Pippa (Harvard University and University of Sydney); Martinez i Coma, Ferran (University of Sydney); Gromping, Max (University of Sydney)
    Abstract: In many countries, polling day ends with disputes about ballot-box fraud, corruption, and flawed registers. Which claims are legitimate? And which are false complaints from sore losers? This report by the Electoral Integrity Project, based at Harvard and the University of Sydney, evaluates the quality of elections held around the world. Based on a rolling survey collecting the views of 1,429 election experts, the research provides independent and reliable evidence to compare whether countries meet international standards of electoral integrity. The rolling survey results presented in this report cover 127 national parliamentary and presidential contests held worldwide in 107 countries from 1 July 2012 to 31 December 2014. The report found that the five best elections during 2014 were Lithuania, Costa Rica, Sweden, Slovenia and Uruguay. The five worst contests in 2014 were Egypt, Mozambique, Afghanistan, Bahrain and Syria. The 2014 US Congressional elections were rated as worst in comparison with all other established democracies.
    Date: 2015–02
  11. By: Merlo, Antonio (Rice University); Palfrey, Thomas R. (CA Institute of Technology)
    Abstract: We conduct a model validation analysis of several behavioral models of voter turnout, using laboratory data. We call our method of model validation concealed parameter recovery, where estimation of a model is done under a veil of ignorance about some of the experimentally controlled parameters--in this case voting costs. We use quantal response equilibrium as the underlying, common structure for estimation, and estimate models of instrumental voting, altruistic voting, expressive voting, and ethical voting. All the models except the ethical model recover the concealed parameters reasonably well. We also report the results of a counterfactual analysis based on the recovered parameters, to compare the policy implications of the different models about the cost of a subsidy to increase turnout.
    JEL: C52 C92 D72
    Date: 2014–08
  12. By: Bonica, Adam (Stanford University); Sen, Maya (Harvard University)
    Abstract: The American judiciary has increasingly come under attack as polarized and politicized. Using a newly collected dataset that captures the ideological positioning of nearly half a million judges and lawyers who have made campaign contributions, we present empirical evidence showing politicization through various tiers of the judicial hierarchy. We show that the higher the court, the more conservative and more polarized it becomes, in contrast with the broader population of attorneys, who tend to be liberal. These findings suggest that political actors not only appear to rely on ideology in the selection of judges, but that they strategically prioritize higher courts. To our knowledge, our study is the first to provide a direct ideological comparison across tiers of the judiciary and between judges and lawyers, and also the first to document how--and why--American courts are politicized.
    JEL: K49
    Date: 2015–01
  13. By: Acharya, Avidit (Stanford University); Blackwell, Matthew (Harvard University); Sen, Maya (Harvard University)
    Abstract: We show that contemporary differences in political attitudes across counties in the American South trace their origins to slavery's prevalence more than 150 years ago. Whites who currently live in Southern counties that had high shares of slaves in 1860 are more likely to identify as a Republican, oppose affirmative action policies, and express racial resentment and colder feelings toward blacks. These results cannot be explained by existing theories, including the theory of racial threat. To explain these results, we offer evidence for a new theory involving the historical persistence of racial attitudes. We argue that, following the Civil War, Southern whites faced political and economic incentives to reinforce racist norms and institutions. This produced racially conservative political attitudes, which in turn have been passed down locally across generations. Our results challenge the interpretation of a vast literature on racial attitudes in the American South.
    JEL: N32 N91 O17
    Date: 2014–12
  14. By: Acharya, Avidit (Stanford University); Blackwell, Matthew (Harvard University); Sen, Maya (Harvard University)
    Abstract: The standard approach in positive political theory posits that action choices are the consequences of attitudes. Could it be, however, that an individual's actions also affect her fundamental preferences? We present a broad theoretical framework that captures the simple, yet powerful, intuition that actions frequently alter attitudes as individuals seek to minimize cognitive dissonance. This framework is particularly appropriate for the study of political attitudes and enables political scientists to formally address questions that have remained inadequately answered by conventional rational choice approaches--questions such as "What are the origins of partisanship?" and "What drives ethnic and racial hatred?" We illustrate our ideas with three examples from the literature: (1) how partisanship emerges naturally in a two party system despite policy being multidimensional, (2) how ethnic or racial hostility increases after acts of violence, and (3) how interactions with people who express different views can lead to empathetic changes in political positions.
    Date: 2015–06
  15. By: Achury, Carolina; Koulovatianos, Christos; Tsoukalas, John
    Abstract: We develop a dynamic recursive model where political and economic decisions interact, to study how excessive debt-GDP ratios affect political sustainability of prudent fiscal policies. Rent seeking groups make political decisions - to cooperate (or not) - on the allocation of fiscal budgets (including rents) and issuance of sovereign debt. A classic commons problem triggers collective fiscal impatience and excessive debt issuing, leading to a vicious circle of high borrowing costs and sovereign default. We analytically characterize debt-GDP thresholds that foster cooperation among rent seeking groups and avoid default. Our analysis and application helps in understanding the politico-economic sustainability of sovereign rescues, emphasizing the need for fiscal targets and possible debt haircuts. We provide a calibrated example that quantifies the threshold debt-GDP ratio at 137%, remarkably close to the target set for private sector involvement in the case of Greece.
    Keywords: sovereign debt,rent seeking,world interest rates,international lending,incentive compatibility,tragedy of the commons,EU crisis,Grexit,Graccident
    JEL: H63 F34 F36 G01 E44 E43 D72
    Date: 2015
  16. By: Aggarwal, Reena (Georgetown University); Erel, Isil (OH State University); Starks, Laura T. (University of TX)
    Abstract: We examine the evolution in voting patterns across firms over time. We find that investors have become more independent in their voting decisions, voting less with the recommendations of management or proxy advisors. Even when the proxy advisor recommends voting against a proposal, we find that over time investors are more likely to ignore the recommendation. Moreover, we also find that proxy advisory recommendations have become more supportive of shareholder proposals. Our main contribution is to examine the role of public opinion in influencing shareholder voting. We show that public opinion on corporate governance issues, as reflected in media coverage and surveys, is strongly associated with investor voting, particularly mutual fund voting.
    JEL: G32 G34 G38
    Date: 2014–08
  17. By: Norris, Pippa (Harvard University and University of Sydney); Dahlerup, Drude (Stockholm University)
    Abstract: What has driven the worldwide adoption and subsequent revision of gender quota policies? This study argues that this phenomenon can be best understood as exemplifying 'glocalization'--with policies adopted due to a combination of changing international discourses and regional diffusion combined with domestic political activists. Moreover a process of policy learning is evident; where the initial policies were relatively ineffective, by failing to ensure a more equitable gender balance in elected office, this spurs subsequent revisions. Empirical analysis supporting this interpretation draws on a new comprehensive cross-national dataset, The Gender Quota Database (GQD, Release 1.0 May 2014). Part I of the paper provides the theoretical framework and literature review. Part II summarizes the research design, data and evidence. Part III describes the use of the main types of gender quotas in politics in various regions of the world (as of May 2014), and discusses trends (waves) in the adoption and amendment of quotas. Part IV presents the results of the analysis of drivers behind the initial adoption of legal gender quotas. Both regional and domestic forces play a role in the initial adoption of gender quota policies, controlling for fixed socio-economic, political and cultural conditions. Part V considers policy-learning processes leading to subsequent revisions strengthening quota laws, focusing upon the lack of success when implementing earlier policies. The conclusion summarizes the key findings and considers their implications.
    Date: 2015–07
  18. By: Sauviat, Luciole
    Keywords: workers education, trade union role, politics, social structure, case study, éducation ouvrière, rôle du syndicat, politique, structure sociale, étude de cas, educación obrera, papel del sindicato, política, estructura social, estudio de casos
    Date: 2015

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