nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2017‒05‒28
eleven papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. Electoral Systems and Immigration By Giuseppe Russo; Francesco Salsano
  2. Electoral Fraud and Voter Turnout: An experimental study By Vardan Baghdasaryan; Giovanna Iannantuoni; Valeria Maggian
  3. Committee Search with Ex-ante Heterogeneous Agents: Theory and Experimental Evidence By Inukai, Keigo; Kawata, Keisuke; Sasaki, Masaru
  4. Pocketbook Voting, Social Preferences, and Expressive Motives in Referenda By Meya, Johannes; Poutvaara, Panu; Schwager, Robert
  5. Concurrent Elections and Political Accountability: Evidence from Italian Local Elections By Emanuele Bracco; Federico Revelli
  6. From Extreme to Mainstream: How Social Norms Unravel By Leonardo Bursztyn; Georgy Egorov; Stefano Fiorin
  7. You shall not build! (until tomorrow) [:] Electoral cycles and housing policies in Germany By Martin, Thorsten
  8. Competitiveness, consumer confidence and election outcomes By Velibor Mačkić; Petar Sorić; Ivana Lolić
  9. The dog that didn’t bark: on the effect of the Great Recession on the surge of secessionism By Xavier Cuadras Morató; Toni Rodon
  10. Is democracy exportable? By Pierre Salmon
  11. Mass media and attitudes to inequality By Debora Di Gioacchino; Alina Verashchagina

  1. By: Giuseppe Russo (Università di Salerno and CSEF); Francesco Salsano (Università di Milano)
    Abstract: Unexplored stylized facts on OECD countries suggest that plurality electoral systems are associated with higher openness to immigration. We propose an explanation based on a retrospective voting model where immigration hurts voters but benefits a rent-seeking policymaker who appropriates part of the income generated by immigrants.To be reappointed, the policymaker must distribute compensation. With respect to proportional systems, plurality systems make it possible to compensate only a few decisive districts and leave higher after-compensation rents, producing therefore higher immigration. In our model, non-decisive districts receive no compensation at all under both electoral systems, providing a rationale for widespread anti-immigration attitudes. Notably, our results also help to explain why governments often seem more pro-immigration than voters. Finally, our model suggests that proportional systems may incentivize the enfranchisement of immigrants with voting rights and that opposition to immigration is more territorially dispersed in plurality systems. Basic evidence supports both predictions.
    Keywords: electoral systems, rent extraction, retrospective voting, immigration
    JEL: D72 D78 F22 H00 H40
    Date: 2017–05–15
  2. By: Vardan Baghdasaryan (American University of Armenia - American University of Armenia); Giovanna Iannantuoni (Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca - Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca [Milano]); Valeria Maggian (GATE Lyon Saint-Étienne - Groupe d'analyse et de théorie économique - ENS Lyon - École normale supérieure - Lyon - UL2 - Université Lumière - Lyon 2 - UCBL - Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1 - UJM - Université Jean Monnet [Saint-Etienne] - Université de Lyon - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)
    Abstract: In this paper we experimentally investigate the consequences of electoral fraud on voter turnout. The experiment is based on a strategic binary voting model where voters decide whether to cast a costly vote in favour of their preferred candidate or to abstain. The minority candidate can illicitly influence the electoral process by applying ballot-box stuffing. In the experiment we implement two different framings: we compare voter turnout in a neutral environment and with framed instructions to explicitly replicate elections. This approach enables to both test the model's predictions and to estimate the framing effects of voting and fraud. Comparison of experimental results with theoretical predictions reveals over-voting, which is exacerbated when fraud occurs. Turnout increases as predicted with moderate level of fraud while, with higher electoral fraud, voters fail to recognize that the existence of a relatively larger number of "agents" voting with certainty considerably decreases the benefits of voting. Importantly, framing matters, as revealed by the higher turnout of those in the majority group, against which the fraud is applied.
    Keywords: Laboratory experiment,Framing,Voting,Electoral fraud,Ballot box stuffng and Voter turnout
    Date: 2017
  3. By: Inukai, Keigo (Osaka University); Kawata, Keisuke (University of Tokyo); Sasaki, Masaru (Osaka University)
    Abstract: The paper develops a committee search model with ex-ante heterogeneous agents and designs laboratory experiments to test theoretical predictions. In the theoretical part of the study, there exists one and only one pivotal voter, who can perfectly and dominantly control the voting results of the committee search activities. The most important prediction is that nonpivotal voters become less picky in committee search than in single-agent search, but that a pivotal voter's voting behavior remains unchanged, regardless of the type of voting rules for the search. However, our experimental results did not support this prediction; not only the nonpivotal voters but also the pivotal voter became less picky in the committee search games. In addition, we found gender differences in voting behavior; females show more concern for other group members' payoff as well as themselves than do males.
    Keywords: experiments, committee search, plurality voting rules
    JEL: C91 D72 D83
    Date: 2017–05
  4. By: Meya, Johannes; Poutvaara, Panu; Schwager, Robert
    Abstract: We develop and test a theory of voting and turnout decisions that integrates self-interest, social preferences, and expressive motives. Our model implies that if pocketbook benefits are relevant, voters either perceive their impact on the outcome to be non-negligible, or expressive motivations do not play a role in the decision on how to vote. Conversely, if own pocketbook benefits do not explain voting, then voting is expressive. If the perceived probability of being pivotal is non-negligible, social preferences and expressive concerns are observationally equivalent. Our empirical analysis studies collective choices which are analogous to decisions on local public goods. We consider referenda among university students on whether to collectively purchase deeply discounted flat rate tickets for public transportation and cultural amenities. Individual usage data allow quantifying the monetary benefits associated with each ticket. As voters had precise information on the individual costs and benefits, our setting comprises a real-world laboratory of direct democracy. We find that monetary benefits strongly influence participation and voting. However, social or expressive motives, such as stated altruism, environmental concerns, and paternalism, are decisive for a significant minority. Our results rule out purely expressive voting and imply that a substantial share of the electorate perceived their impact on the outcome to be non-negligible.
    Keywords: pocketbook voting; social preferences; expressive voting; instrumental voting; public goods; altruism; referendum
    JEL: D72 H41 D64
    Date: 2017–05
  5. By: Emanuele Bracco; Federico Revelli
    Abstract: This paper analyses the effects of holding concurrent elections in multi-tiered government structures on turnout decision and voting behaviour, based on municipal and provincial electoral data from Italy during the 2000s. When the less-salient provincial elections are held concurrently with the highly salient municipal elections, we observe three main effects: (1) turnout increases significantly by almost ten percentage points; (2) issues that are specific of the more salient (mayoral) contest affect the less salient (provincial) contest, with mayors' fiscal decisions impacting on the vote share of provincial incumbents; (3) issues that are specific to the less salient (provincial) contest stop affecting provincial elections outcomes. These findings shed light on how voters acquire information on incumbent politicians, and proves that the effectiveness of an election as an accountability tool may be hindered by the concurrence with higher-stakes elections.
    Keywords: concurrent elections, turnout, political accountability, local elections, coat-tails
    JEL: D70 H70
    Date: 2017
  6. By: Leonardo Bursztyn; Georgy Egorov; Stefano Fiorin
    Abstract: Social norms are typically thought to be persistent and long-lasting, sometimes surviving through growth, recessions, and regime changes. In some cases, however, they can quickly change. This paper examines the unraveling of social norms in communication when new information becomes available, e.g., aggregated through elections. We build a model of strategic communication between citizens who can hold one of two mutually exclusive opinions. In our model, agents communicate their opinions to each other, and senders care about receivers' approval. As a result, senders are more likely to express the more popular opinion, while receivers make less inference about senders who stated the popular view. We test these predictions using two experiments. In the main experiment, we identify the causal effect of Donald Trump's rise in political popularity on individuals' willingness to publicly express xenophobic views. Participants in the experiment are offered a bonus reward if they authorize researchers to make a donation to an anti-immigration organization on their behalf. Participants who expect their decision to be observed by the surveyor are significantly less likely to accept the offer than those expecting an anonymous choice. Increases in participants' perceptions of Trump's popularity (either through experimental variation or through the “natural experiment” of his victory) eliminate the wedge between private and public behavior. A second experiment uses dictator games to show that participants judge a person less negatively for publicly expressing (but not for privately holding) a political view they disagree with if that person's social environment is one where the majority of people holds that view.
    JEL: C90 D03 D72 D83 P16 Z10
    Date: 2017–05
  7. By: Martin, Thorsten
    Abstract: This paper investigates whether local politicians adjust their approval of housing licenses during election times in Germany. For my research, I use a balanced Panel of 4,983 West German municipalities from 2002 to 2010. Due to the timing of local elections in Germany, I can disentangle the election effect from common time effects. My results suggest a decrease in new construction approvals for residential housing areas during election years of around 11 % evaluated at the mean, and an increase of similar magnitude in the years following the election. Furthermore, I am able to show that the decrease during election times is associated with the share of homeowners in a municipality. Hence, my research adds to the literature on political business cycles as well as to the existing literature on homevoters and their potential effect on housing policies during election times.
    Keywords: Urban development policies, land use regulations, homevoter, political business cycle, housing policies
    JEL: D72 H79 R31
    Date: 2017–05–07
  8. By: Velibor Mačkić (Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Zagreb); Petar Sorić (Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Zagreb); Ivana Lolić (Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Zagreb)
    Abstract: The literature on the political business cycle (PBC) suggests that politicians systematically manipulate economic conditions in order to increase their chances of re-election. The list of variables that have been found to have a significant effect on the probability of re-election includes macroeconomic (inflation rate, unemployment rate, output growth rate) and fiscal (budget balance, level of expenditures and tax revenues) outcomes. This paper focuses on the question whether price and non-price competitiveness indicators together with consumer confidence index have a statistically significant effect. Thus, this paper addresses two empirical questions. First, in light of the globalisation process and on-going comparisons among national economies, could price and non-price indicators serve as a proxy for voters when deciding on whether to penalise or reward the incumbent? And second, based on the economic theory of voting, is consumer confidence index a better indicator of re-election probability compared to unemployment and output growth rates? Using a dataset of EU member states over the 2000-2015 period and by applying probit/logit analysis we test both questions.
    Keywords: political business cycles, competitiveness, consumer confidence index, EU
    JEL: D72 H50 P16
    Date: 2017–05–16
  9. By: Xavier Cuadras Morató; Toni Rodon
    Abstract: This paper explores the relationship between the economic turmoil generated by the Great Recession and the increase of secessionism in different regions of Western countries. Some authors have stressed that the Great Recession triggered profound changes in political attitudes and preferences and, in the context of a conflict between the centre and the periphery, fuelled secessionism as a radical shift of the institutional setup. Nevertheless, other researchers have remarked that a deep recession may make voters more accommodating with the status quo and more reluctant to take radical stances. Our paper aims at contributing to this debate by analyzing the case of Catalonia. We use the variation of economic variables and data from surveys and electoral outcomes at the level of municipalities to explore the relationship between the deterioration of the economic situation (that is, the local variation in the intensity of the crisis) and the increase of preferences for secession among the Catalan population. The findings from the analysis of our empirical models do not support the hypothesis that the heterogeneous effects of the Great Recession had any significant impact on political preferences at the level of municipality in Catalonia. These findings contribute to our understanding of the effects of hard economic times on people’s attitudes and behaviour.
    Keywords: Great Recession, unemployment, secession, economic crisis, Catalonia
    JEL: H77 N44
    Date: 2017–05
  10. By: Pierre Salmon (LEDi - Laboratoire d'Economie de Dijon - UB - Université de Bourgogne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)
    Abstract: Among the many aspects of the question of whether democracy is exportable, this contribution focusses on the role of the people, understood not as a unitary actor but as a heterogeneous set: the citizens. The people matters, in a different way, both in the countries to which democracy might be exported and in the democratic countries in which the question is about promoting democracy elsewhere. The mechanisms or characteristics involved in the discussion include yardstick competition, differences among citizens in the intensity of their preferences, differences among autocracies regarding intrusion into private life, citizens' assessments of future regime change, and responsiveness of elected incumbents to the views of minorities. The second part of the contribution explains why democracy promotion is more likely to work through citizens' concern with human rights abuses than with regime characteristics.
    Keywords: yardstick competition over regimes,support to autocracies,democratization, democracy promotion, preference intensity, popular, human rights abuses
    Date: 2017–03
  11. By: Debora Di Gioacchino; Alina Verashchagina
    Abstract: We aim to investigate which is the potential of various mass media to influence individuals’ attitude to inequality. A theoretical model is proposed to formalize how preferences towards redistribution are formed. It is then tested empirically by using the data from the European Social Survey offering information on the time people spend watching TV and using internet. Mass media are assumed to affect the value people attach to equality, and in particular equality of opportunity, which is reflected in their attitude towards income redistribution. This process is modeled by using the ordered probit technique and the conditional mixed process estimator. Moreover, by estimating the dose-response function, we highlight that the relation between exposure to mass media and attitudes to inequality is non-linear. We also test the impact of various media market and personal characteristics and point out some cross-country differences is the way attitudes to inequality are shaped
    Keywords: mass media, attitudes to inequality
    JEL: L82 D63 D31 D72 D83
    Date: 2017–05

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