nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2017‒12‒11
eight papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. To the Victor Belongs the Spoils? Party Membership and Public Sector Employment in Brazil By Fernanda Brollo, Fernanda; Forquesato, Pedro; Gozzi, Juan Carlos
  2. Does electoral observation influence electoral results? Experimental evidence for domestic and international observers in Mozambique By Stefanus Leeffers; Pedro Vicente
  3. Tuition Increases Geaux Away? Evidence from Voting on Louisiana’s Amendment 2 By Joshua C. Hall; Serkan Karadas
  4. Party System Change and the Quality of Democracy in East Africa By Riccardo Pelizzo; Zim Nwokora
  5. Gender and climate change: Do female parliamentarians make a difference? By Astghik Mavisakalyan; Yashar Tarverdi
  6. The Causal Impact of Migration on US Trade: Evidence from Political Refugees By Walter Steingress
  7. Migration, political institutions, and social networks By Catia Batista; Julia Seither; Pedro C. Vicente
  8. Are politically connected firms less constrained in credit markets? By John Rand

  1. By: Fernanda Brollo, Fernanda (University of Warwick, CAGE, and CEPR); Forquesato, Pedro (PUC-Rio); Gozzi, Juan Carlos (University of Warwick)
    Abstract: We analyze how political discretion a.ects the selection of government workers, using individual-level data on political party membership and matched employer-employee data on the universe of formal workers in Brazil. Exploiting close mayoral races, we find that winning an election leads to an increase of over 40% in the number of members of the winning party working in the municipal bureaucracy. Employment of members of the ruling party increases relatively more in senior positions, but also expands in lower-ranked jobs, suggesting that discretionary appointments are used both to influence policymaking and to reward supporters. We find that party members hired after their party is elected tend be of similar or even higher quality than members of the runner-up party, contrary to common perceptions that political appointees are less qualified. Moreover, the increased public employment of members of the ruling party is long-lasting, extending beyond the end of the mayoral term.
    Keywords: bureaucracy ; patronage ; political parties ; public sector employment
    JEL: D72 D73 H70 J45
    Date: 2017
  2. By: Stefanus Leeffers; Pedro Vicente
    Abstract: Electoral fraud is a common problem in young democracies. Election observers constitute one possible remedy. Yet, quantitative evidence of the causal effects of observers is scarce. Data on the random assignment of observers during Mozambique’s 2009 general elections is used to estimate the impact that observers have on electoral results. We are able to distinguish between domestic observers that stayed in the same ballot table for the whole of the election day, who were deployed countrywide, and international observers that circulated across a number of ballot locations, assigned within selected districts. We show that the presence of domestic observers reduced voter turnout and increased the share of blank votes countrywide. This suggests a reduction of ballot fraud activities. For selected districts in which international observers were active findings are less clear, as we do not find fraud-reducing effects for any of the two types of observers. A possible interpretation is that local politicians anticipate the presence of international electoral observers in convenient districts. JEL codes: D72, O55, P16
    Keywords: Electoral observation, observer effect, democracy, electoral politics, randomized experiment, field experiment, Mozambique, Africa
    Date: 2017
  3. By: Joshua C. Hall (West Virginia University, Department of Economics); Serkan Karadas (Sewanee, Department of Economics)
    Abstract: In many states, public institutions of higher education have the autonomy to raise tuition. This has not been the case in Louisiana since a 1995 constitutional amendment required a two-thirds majority of the state legislature for any tuition increase. In November of 2016, voters in Louisiana rejected Amendment 2, a constitutional amendment that would have given state institutions of higher education autonomy in setting tuition. We examine parish-level voting on Amendment 2 using an empirical political economy model and find that parishes with a greater percentage of African-Americans and university employees were more likely to vote yes. Student enrollment at public institutions seemingly did not play a role in Amendment 2 losing.
    Keywords: Amendment 2, tuition increases
    Date: 2017–11
  4. By: Riccardo Pelizzo (Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan); Zim Nwokora (Deakin University, Australia)
    Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to explore in greater detail the nexus between party system change and democratic qualities. In doing so, we do not simply assess whether, how and to what extent qualities of democracy in East Africa are affected by the instability of the patterns of inter-party competition (fluidity of the party system), but we also plan to show how the sub-components of party system fluidity (frequency of change, scope of change, variety of change) influence the democratic qualities. By disaggregating fluidity in its constitutive elements and by testing how each of them affects the qualities of democracy, we find that while the frequency of change has a beneficial impact on the qualities of democracy, the other sub-components of fluidity—namely, the “scope” and “variety” of system change—have a consistently negative effect on democratic quality.
    Keywords: party system change, East Africa, South East Asia, fluidity, democracy
    JEL: D02 D72 H00 H11 H89 O00 O10 O43 O55
    Date: 2017–01
  5. By: Astghik Mavisakalyan (Bankwest Curtin Economic Centre, Curtin University); Yashar Tarverdi (Bankwest Curtin Economic Centre, Curtin University)
    Abstract: This paper investigates whether female political representation in national parliaments influences climate change policy outcomes. Based on data from a large sample of countries, we demonstrate that female representation leads countries to adopt more stringent climate change policies. We exploit a combination of full and partial identification approaches to suggest that this relationship is likely to be causal. Moreover, we show that through its effect on the stringency of climate change policies, the representation of females in parliament results in lower carbon dioxide emissions. Female political representation may be an underutilized tool for addressing climate change.
    Keywords: language; gender, political representation, climate change, environmental policy.
    JEL: D70 J16 Q54 Q58
    Date: 2017–11
  6. By: Walter Steingress
    Abstract: Immigrants can increase international trade by shifting preferences towards the goods of their country of origin and by reducing bilateral transaction costs. Using geographical variation across U.S. states for the period 2008 to 2013, I estimate the respective causal impact of immigrants on U.S. exports and imports. I address endogeneity and reverse causality by exploiting the exogenous allocation of political refugees within the U.S. refugee resettlement program that prevents immigrants from choosing the destination location. I find that a 10 percent increase in recent immigrants to a U.S. state raises imports from those immigrants’ country of origin by 1.2 percent and exports by 0.8 percent.
    Keywords: International topics, Regional economic developments
    JEL: F14 F22 J61
    Date: 2017
  7. By: Catia Batista; Julia Seither; Pedro C. Vicente
    Abstract: What is the role of international migrants and, more specifically, of migrant networks in shaping the quality of political institutions in migrant sending countries? Our theory proposes that migration might change individual social identities and in this way intrinsic motivation for political participation, while it may also improve knowledge about better quality political institutions. Hence, international migration might increase political awareness and participation both by migrants and by other individuals in their networks. To test this hypothesis, this paper uses several survey and behavioral measures related to political participation and electoral knowledge. These data were purposely collected around the time of the 2009 elections in Mozambique. The empirical results show that the number of migrants an individual is in close contact through regular chatting within a village significantly increase political participation of residents in that village – more so than family links to migrants. Our findings are consistent with both improved knowledge about political processes, and increased intrinsic motivation for political participation being transmitted through migrant networks. JEL codes: D72, F22, O15
    Keywords: International migration, social networks, political participation, information, effects of emigration in origin countries, sub-Saharan Africa, Mozambique
    Date: 2017
  8. By: John Rand
    Abstract: Utilizing a panel of over 2,000 Vietnamese SMEs over a 10-year period, we analyse the importance of being politically connected on both access and cost-of-credit obtained from formal financial institutions. Controlling for unobserved time-invariant firm-level heterogeneity, productivity self-selection concerns, and access to alternative credit markets, we show that political connections decreases the likelihood of being credit-constrained by 4 percentage points. Moreover, politically connected firms accessing credit face lower cost-of-capital than non-connected SMEs not excluded from formal financial markets. However, the impact of political connections is most valuable during periods of financial distress, but less prevalent during business cycle upswings.
    Date: 2017

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