nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2015‒11‒21
eleven papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. Understanding the 2015 Marriage Referendum in Ireland: Constitutional Convention, Campaign, and Conservative Ireland By Johan A. Elkink; David M. Farrell; Theresa Reidy; Jane Suiter
  2. How Democracy could foster Economic Growth: The Last 200 Years By Leonard, Carol S.; Yanovskiy, Konstantin Ė.; Shestakov, D.
  3. Stability in electoral competition: A case for multiple votes By Dimitrios Xefteris
  4. Elected Officials’ Opportunistic Behavior on Third-Party Punishment: An Experimental Analysis By Natalia Jiménez; Ángel Solano-García
  5. Coercive Trade Policy By Vincent Anesi; Giovanni Facchini
  6. Voting and transfer payments in a threshold public goods game By Feige, Christian; Ehrhart, Karl-Martin
  7. Do Development Minister Characteristics Affect Aid Giving? By Fuchs, Andreas; Richert, Katharina
  8. The Political Economy of Migration Enforcement: Domestic versus Border Control By Giovanni Facchini; Cecilia Testa
  9. Party Affiliation and Public Spending By Louis-Philippe Beland; Sara Oloomi
  10. Non-democratic regimes and Elite Capture: Evidence from the Brazilian Dictatorship By Luis N. Meloni
  11. Bitterness in Life and Attitudes towards Immigration By Panu Poutvaara; Max Friedrich Steinhardt

  1. By: Johan A. Elkink (School of Politics and International Relations and Geary Institute for Public Policy, University College Dublin); David M. Farrell (School of Politics and International Relations, University College Dublin); Theresa Reidy (Department of Government, University College Cork); Jane Suiter (Institute for Future Media and Journalism, School of Communications, Dublin City University)
    Abstract: On 22 May 2015 the marriage referendum proposal was passed by a large majority of Irish voters and the definition of marriage in the constitution was broadened to introduce marriage equality. This referendum is remarkable for a number of reasons: (1) it is uniquely based on an experiment in deliberative democracy; (2) the referendum campaign was unusually vigorous and active; and (3) the voting patterns at the referendum point to a significant value shift along the deep seated liberal conservative political cleavage of Irish politics. This article provides an overview of the background to the referendum initiative, the campaign prior to the referendum, and the key factors that drove voter turnout and preference. Based on a post-referendum survey, we find that while support for the government of the day, political knowledge, and social attitudes have the same effects as commonly found in other referendums, the variation among social classes was less prevalent than usual and door-to-door canvassing by the two sides of the campaign impacted through turnout rather than vote preference. The voting behaviour of the different age groups suggests strong generational effects.
    Keywords: political campaigns; electoral behaviour, referendums; constitutional convention; marriage equality
    JEL: D72
    Date: 2015–11–09
  2. By: Leonard, Carol S.; Yanovskiy, Konstantin Ė.; Shestakov, D.
    Abstract: In this paper we explore current understandings of the influence of political rights, among historical legacies, on economic development. We construct variables for selected political regimes for 1811-2010. We find significant association between individual rights and economic growth. We argue that current understanding of political regimes supportive of growth (Acemoglu, etc), should parse the concept of property rights to include the protection of the individual in their focus on private property rights protection, alone, respected in various forms of government, are insufficient; what matters is the security of individuals from arbitrary arrest, regardless of “type of regime”. Discretionary rights of rulers or democratic governments to arrest citizens undermines the protection of private property rights and other attributes classically given to democratic foundations of economic growth, for example, free press, freedom of the exercise of religious belief. We suggest, as a research agenda, that the power of the politically competitive system therefore comes from weakening discretionary authority over law enforcement
    Keywords: rule of law,Rule of Force,Personal Rights,Private Property Protection,Economic Growth
    JEL: P16 P50 N40 O40
    Date: 2014
  3. By: Dimitrios Xefteris
    Abstract: It is well known that the Hotelling-Downs model generically fails to admit an equilibrium when voting takes place under the plurality rule (Osborne 1993). This paper studies the Hotelling-Downs model considering that each voter is allowed to vote for up to k candidates and demonstrates that an equilibrium exists for a non-degenerate class of distributions of voters’ ideal policies - which includes all log-concave distributions - if and only if (k=2). That is, the plurality rule (k=1) is shown to be the unique k-vote rule which generically precludes stability in electoral competition. Regarding the features of k-vote rules’ equilibria, first, we show that there is no convergent equilibrium and, then, we fully characterize all divergent equilibria. We study comprehensively the simplest kind of divergent equilibria (two-location ones) and we argue that, apart from existing for quite a general class of distributions when k = 2, they have further attractive properties - among others, they are robust to free-entry and to candidates’ being uncertain about voters’ preferences.
    Keywords: Hotelling-Downs model, equilibrium, multiple votes.
    Date: 2015–11
  4. By: Natalia Jiménez (Dpto. Teoría e Historia Económica); Ángel Solano-García (Dpto. Teoría e Historia Económica)
    Abstract: In this paper we analyze how the punishment behavior of a democratically elected official varies when facing an electoral process (opportunism). To this aim, we conduct an economic experiment in which officials are third party punishers in a public goods game. We consider two different scenarios which differ in the degree of cooperation within the society. We¿find that officials increase their punishment when they face elections in both scenarios. Contrary to candidates expectations, voters always vote for the least severe candidate. En este artículo se analiza como el comportamiento sancionador varía si el que decide el grado de la sanción es elegido democráticamente o no. Para esto realizamos un experimento de laboratorio en el que unos sancionadores externos pueden castigar el comportamiento no cooperativo en un juego de bienes públicos. Consideramos dos posibles escenarios, uno donde existe una gran cooperación y otro donde ésta es escasa. Nuestros resultados muestran que aquellos sancionadores que se enfrentan a un proceso electoral son más duros en su castigo en ambos escenarios. Sin embargo, contrariamente a las expectativas de los candidatos, los votantes votan por el candidato menos severo.
    Keywords: Oportunismo, castigo, juego de bienes públicos, votación, experimentos de laboratorio. Opportunism, Punishment, Public Goods Games, Voting, Experiments
    JEL: C92 D72 H4
    Date: 2015–11
  5. By: Vincent Anesi (University of Nottingham and GEP); Giovanni Facchini (University of Nottingham,CEPR, CES-Ifo, CReAM, GEP, IZA and Centro Studi Luca d'Agliano)
    Abstract: Empirical evidence suggests trade coercion exercised unilaterally is significantly less likely to induce concessions than coercion exercised through an international organization. In this paper we build a two-country model of coercion that can provide a rationale for this finding, and for how "weak" international institutions might be effective, even if their rulings cannot be directly enforced. In particular we show that if coercion is unilateral, the country requesting the policy change will demand a concession so substantial to make it unacceptable to its partner, and a trade war will ensue. If the parties can instead commit to an international organization (IO), compliance is more likely, because the potential IO ruling places a cap on the Foreign government's incentives to signal its resolve.
    Keywords: GATT, WTO, Dispute Settlement, Political Economy
    JEL: F12 F16 L11
  6. By: Feige, Christian; Ehrhart, Karl-Martin
    Abstract: In a laboratory experiment, we investigate if groups consisting of two heterogeneous player types (with different marginal contribution costs) can increase their total contributions and payoffs in a threshold public goods game if transfer payments are possible among the players. We find that transfer payments are indeed used in many groups to shift contributions from high-cost players to low-cost players, thereby not only increasing social welfare, but also equalizing payoffs. In a repeated setting with individual voluntary contributions and transfers, this redistribution effect takes a few rounds to manifest and high-cost players benefit the most in terms of payoffs. The same beneficial effect of transfer payments can also be achieved in a one-shot setting by having the groups vote unanimously on contributions and transfers of all players.
    Keywords: threshold public good,transfer payments,experimental economics,unanimous voting,committee,heterogeneity
    JEL: C92 D71 H41
    Date: 2015
  7. By: Fuchs, Andreas; Richert, Katharina
    Abstract: Over 300 government members have had the main responsibility for international development cooperation in 23 member countries of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee since the organization started reporting detailed Official Development Assistance (ODA) data in 1967. Understanding their role in foreign aid giving is crucial since their decisions might directly impact aid effectiveness and thus economic development on the ground. Our study examines whether development ministers’ personal characteristics influence aid budgets and aid quality. To this end, we create a novel database on development ministers’ gender, political ideology, prior professional experience in development cooperation, education in economics, and time in office over the 1967-2012 period. Results from fixed-effects panel regressions show that some of the personal characteristics of development ministers matter. Most notably, we find that more experienced ministers with respect to their time in office obtain larger aid budgets. Moreover, there is evidence that female ministers as well as officeholders with prior professional experience in development cooperation and a longer time in office provide higher-quality ODA.
    Keywords: development minister; leadership; foreign aid; Official Development Assistance; aid budget; aid quality; personal characteristics; gender; partisan politics; experience
    Date: 2015–11–12
  8. By: Giovanni Facchini (University of Nottingham); Cecilia Testa (Royal Holloway University of London)
    Abstract: We study migration policy enforcement by an elected government. The policy-maker faces uncer-tainty on the supply of migrants, but has more information than the public on its preferences and the extent and effectiveness of its enforcement activities. We show that a utilitarian government prefer-ring more migrants than the majority may find it optimal to set a restrictive target to please the me-dian voter, while relaxing its enforcement to admit more foreigners in a concealed way. Lax en-forcement may be achieved either by deploying inadequate resources on cost–effective activities (domestic enforcement) or by allocating a larger budget on less effective tools (border enforcement). The attractiveness of one instrument over the other depends on the size of the immigrant flow: if the supply is large, border enforcement might be preferred because, although more costly, it brings the number of migrants closer to the utilitarian optimum. Hence, re–election concerns might provide a rationale for the widespread use of less a effective enforcement tool, such as border control.
    Keywords: Illegal immigration, Immigration Policy, Political Economy
    JEL: F22 J61
  9. By: Louis-Philippe Beland; Sara Oloomi
    Abstract: This paper investigates whether the party affiliation of governors (Democrat or Republican) has an impact on the allocation of state expenditures. Exploiting gubernatorial election results from 1960 to 2012 and a Regression Discontinuity Design (RDD), we find that Democratic governors allocate a larger share of their budget to health/hospitals and education sectors. The results are robust to a wide range of controls and model specifications.
  10. By: Luis N. Meloni
    Abstract: This paper investigates the existence of elite capture at local levels of government in the context of the Brazilian dictatorship, a particular interesting context because during the dictatorship the mayors of some municipalities were appointed by the regime, while others were elected directly. This is done comparing measures of inequality after redemocratization between municipalities that had appointed mayors with (a subset of) municipalities where mayors were elected directly. To overcome the issue of the selection of municipalities, a combination of geographic regression discontinuity (GRD) design with matching techniques is employed, relying on the hypothesis that the main source of selection is related to the geographic characteristics of the municipalities. The main results indicate income inequality increased more in municipalities that had mayors appointed by the regime and that was mainly due to an increase in the share of income earned by the richest. Although lack of more detailed data does not allow to explore the channels through which this wealth concentration occurred, the results are consistent with the hypothesis of elite capture.
    Keywords: Political Economy; Institutions; Inequality
    JEL: P16 D02 D63
    Date: 2015–11–10
  11. By: Panu Poutvaara; Max Friedrich Steinhardt
    Abstract: Integration of immigrants is a two-way process, the success of which depends both on immigrants and on natives. We provide new evidence on the determinants of individual attitudes towards immigration, using data from the 2005 and 2010 waves of the German Socio-Economic Panel. In particular, we show that bitterness in life is strongly associated with worries about immigration. This effect cannot be explained just by concerns that immigrants are competing with oneself in thelabor market. Instead, it appears that people who feel that they have not got what they deserve in life oppose immigration for spiteful reasons.
    Keywords: Immigration, bitterness, native attitudes
    JEL: D72 F22 J61
    Date: 2015

This nep-pol issue is ©2015 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.