nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2017‒09‒03
seven papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. Social preferences and political attitudes: An online experiment on a large heterogeneous sample By Rudolf Kerschbamer; Daniel Muller
  2. A concept of sincerity for combinatorial voting By Francesco De Sinopoli; Claudia Meroni
  3. Fundamental errors in the voting booth By Giacomo A. M. Ponzetto; Edward L. Glaeser
  4. Public Opinion on Education Policy in Germany By Lergetporer, Philipp; Werner, Katharina; Woessmann, Ludger
  5. The swing voter's curse in social networks By Buechel, Berno; Mechtenberg, Lydia
  6. Determinants of Urban Land Supply in China: How Do Political Factors Matter? By Hsu, Wen-Tai; Li, Xiaolu; Tang, Yang; Wu, Jing
  7. Who are the 'ghost' MPs? evidence froM the french ParliaMent By Nicolas Gavoille

  1. By: Rudolf Kerschbamer; Daniel Muller
    Abstract: This paper investigates - in a large heterogeneous sample - the relationship between social preferences on the one hand, and socioeconomic factors and political preferences on the other hand. Socioeconomic factors correlate with social preferences, and social preferences robustly shape political attitudes and voting behavior in a particular way: Selfish subjects are the extremists on one side of the political spectrum - they are more likely to vote for a right-wing party, they are less inclined to favor redistribution and they are more likely to self-assess themselves as right-wing than all the other types. Inequality-averse subjects, altruists and maxi-min sit at the opposite end of the political spectrum, while all the other types behave less systematically and in a less extreme fashion. Overall, our evidence indicates that elicited social preferences are externally valid as a predictor for political attitudes, and that social preferences are fairly stable across contexts and over longer periods of time.
    Keywords: Distributional Preferences, Social Preferences, Equality Equivalence Test, Political Attitudes, Voting Behavior, German Internet Panel
    JEL: C91 D30 D63 D64 D72 H50
    Date: 2017–08–23
  2. By: Francesco De Sinopoli (Department of Economics (University of Verona)); Claudia Meroni (Department of Economics (University of Verona))
    Abstract: A basic problem in voting theory is that all the strategy profiles in which nobody is pivotal are Nash equilibria. We study elections where voters decide simultaneously on several binary issues. We extend the concept of conditional sincerity introduced by Alesina and Rosenthal (1996) and propose an intuitive and simple criterion to refine equilibria in which players are not pivotal. This is shown to have a foundation in a refinement of perfection that takes into account the material voting procedure. We prove that in large elections the proposed solution is characterized through a weaker definition of Condorcet winner and always survives sophisticated voting.
    Keywords: Voting theory, multi-issue elections, strategic voting, perfect equilibrium.
    JEL: C72 D72
    Date: 2017–01
  3. By: Giacomo A. M. Ponzetto; Edward L. Glaeser
    Abstract: Psychologists have long documented that we over-attribute people's actions to innate characteristics, rather than to luck or circumstances. Similarly, economists have found that both politicians and businessmen are rewarded for luck. In this paper, we introduce this "Fundamental Attribution Error" into two benchmark political economy models. In both models, voter irrationality can improve politicians' behavior, because voters attribute good behavior to fixed attributes that merit reelection. This upside or irrationality is countered by suboptimal leader selection, including electing leaders who emphasize objectives that are beyond their control. The error has particularly adverse consequences for institutional choice, where it generates too little demand for a free press, too much demand for dictatorship, and responding to endemic corruption by electing new supposedly honest leaders, instead of investing in institutional reform.
    Keywords: Fundamental attribution error, political economy
    JEL: D72
    Date: 2017–08
  4. By: Lergetporer, Philipp (Ifo Institute for Economic Research); Werner, Katharina (Ifo Institute for Economic Research); Woessmann, Ludger (Ifo Institute for Economic Research)
    Abstract: To better understand the political economy constraints of education policy, we have conducted the annual ifo Education Survey in Germany since 2014. This paper summarizes selected key findings on the German publics' preferences for education policies ranging from early childhood education and schools to the apprenticeship system, universities, and lifelong learning. While the emerging picture is complex and multifaceted, some general patterns emerge. The majority of Germans is surprisingly open to education reform and favors clear performance orientation. Survey experiments indicate that information can have substantial effects on public policy preferences. Overall, education policies seem important for respondents' voting behavior.
    Keywords: education policy, public opinion, political economy, survey experiments, Germany
    JEL: I28 D72 H52
    Date: 2017–08
  5. By: Buechel, Berno; Mechtenberg, Lydia
    Abstract: We study private communication in social networks prior to a majority vote on two alternative policies. Some (or all) agents receive a private imperfect signal about which policy is correct. They can, but need not, recommend a policy to their neighbors in the social network prior to the vote. We show theoretically and empirically that communication can undermine efficiency of the vote and hence reduce welfare in a common interest setting. Both efficiency and existence of fully informative equilibria in which vote recommendations are always truthfully given and followed hinge on the structure of the communication network. If some voters have distinctly larger audiences than others, their neighbors should not follow their vote recommendation; however, they may do so in equilibrium. We test the model in a lab experiment and find strong support for the comparative-statics and, more generally, for the importance of the network structure for voting behavior.
    Keywords: Strategic Voting; Social Networks; Swing Voter’s Curse; Information Aggregation
    JEL: D72 D83 D85 C91
    Date: 2017–07–10
  6. By: Hsu, Wen-Tai (School of Economics, Singapore Management University); Li, Xiaolu (Division of Economics, Nanyang Technological University); Tang, Yang (Division of Economics, Nanyang Technological University); Wu, Jing (Hang Lung Center for Real Estate and Department of Construction Management, Tsinghua University)
    Abstract: This paper explores two political factors for their potential effects on urban land supply in China: corruption, and competition for promotion. We find that standard urban-economic predictions hold in the sense that both population and income increases are strongly significant determinants for the increase in urban land supply. Conditional on these demand-side factors, we find that the usage of two-stage auctions (as a proxy for corruption) is highly correlated with the increase in land supply. The corruption effects are strongest for commercial land, followed by residential land and then industrial land. To shed light on the competition motives among prefectural leaders, we examine how the number of years in office affects land supply, and distinguish among different hypotheses. Our empirical results show robust rising trends in land sales (both in quantity and revenue). These results are consistent with the hypothesis that the impatience and anxiety in later years from not being promoted may contribute to the increase in land sales revenue in later years; they are inconsistent with the hypothesis that prefectural leaders may give up and become more corrupt in later years. We also find that prefectural leaders may aim for larger land sales revenue overall in the first few (around 5) years in office instead of larger revenue in the first couple years.
    Keywords: Land supply; China; Political factors; institution; Monocentric-city model
    Date: 2017–03–01
  7. By: Nicolas Gavoille (CREM - Centre de Recherche en Economie et Management - UNICAEN - Université Caen Normandie - UR1 - Université de Rennes 1 - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Stockholm School of Economics in Riga, Condorcet Center for Political Economy - CREM - Centre de Recherche en Economie et Management - UNICAEN - Université Caen Normandie - UR1 - Université de Rennes 1 - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)
    Abstract: This paper studies the characteristics of the ghost deputies of the French National Assembly, i.e. deputies who do not have any official recorded activity over a whole year. Using a rich dataset providing various information about all deputies from 1959 to 2012, the results indicate that the typical ghost deputy is an old man with a low level of schooling, member of a large party which does not support the government and who is elected in jurisdiction with a low level of political competition. However, personal characteristics are less and less correlated with performance over the years. Finally, ghost deputies face more difficulties to achieve reelection, but are penalized only at the first round, voters exclusively considering national factors at the second round.
    Keywords: Bad politicians, Legislative activity, French politicians, Leg- islative elections, Vote-Popularity function
    Date: 2017–06

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