nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2018‒06‒25
twelve papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. The Political Boundaries of Ethnic Divisions By Samuel Bazzi; Matthew Gudgeon
  2. The Trade Origins of Economic Nationalism: Import Competition and Voting Behavior in Western Europe By Florian Nagler; Giorgio Ottonello
  3. The Chamberlin-Courant Rule and the k-Scoring Rules: Agreement and Condorcet Committee Consistency By Mostapha Diss; Eric Kamwa; Abdelmonaim Tlidi
  4. Backing the incumbent in difficult times: the electoral impact of wildfires By Roberto Ramos; Carlos Sanz
  5. The Minimal Persuasive Effects of Campaign Contact in General Elections: Evidence from 49 Field Experiments By Kalla, Joshua; Broockman, David
  6. Democratic Constraints and Adherence to the Classical Gold Standard By Kramer, Bert S.; Milionis, Petros
  7. Social Media, Sentiment and Public Opinions: Evidence from #Brexit and #USElection By Yuriy Gorodnichenko; Tho Pham; Oleksandr Talavera
  8. Voting with your wallet? Municipal budget policy and election results By Baert, Stijn; Matthijs, Herman; Verdievel, Ilse
  9. Judicial Politics and Sentencing Decisions By Alma Cohen; Crystal Yang
  10. Peasant Aristocrats? Wealth and Social Status of Swedish Farmer Parliamentarians 1769–1895 By Bengtsson, Erik; Olsson, Mats
  11. Of time, uncertainty, and policy-making : Lionel Robbins’ lost philosophy of political economy By Thiago Dumont Oliveira; Carlos Eduardo Suprinyak
  12. The other 1%: Class Leavening, Contamination and Voting for Redistribution By Lars Lefgren; David Sims; Olga Stoddard

  1. By: Samuel Bazzi; Matthew Gudgeon
    Abstract: This paper argues that redrawing subnational political boundaries can transform ethnic divisions. We use a natural policy experiment in Indonesia to show how the effects of ethnic diversity on conflict depend on the political units within which groups are organized. Redistricting along group lines can reduce conflict, but these gains are undone or even reversed when the new borders introduce greater polarization. These adverse effects of polarization are further amplified around majoritarian elections, consistent with strong incentives to capture new local governments in settings with ethnic favoritism. Overall, our findings illustrate the promise and pitfalls of redistricting in diverse countries.
    JEL: D72 D74 H41 H77 O12 Q34
    Date: 2018–05
  2. By: Florian Nagler; Giorgio Ottonello
    Abstract: We investigate the impact of globalization on electoral outcomes in fifteenWestern European countries, over 1988-2007. We employ both official election results at the district level and individual-level voting data, combined with party ideology scores from the ComparativeManifesto Project. We compute a region-specific measure of exposure to Chinese imports, based on the historical industry specialization of each region. To identify the causal impact of the import shock, we instrument imports to Europe using Chinese imports to the United States. At the district level, a stronger import shock leads to: (1) an increase in support for nationalist parties; (2) a general shift to the right in the electorate; and (3) an increase in support for radical right parties. These results are confirmed by the analysis of individual-level vote choices. In addition, we find evidence that voters respond to the shock in a sociotropic way.
    Keywords: Globalization; Nationalism; Radical Right; Economic Vote
    Date: 2017
  3. By: Mostapha Diss (Univ Lyon, UJM Saint-Etienne, GATE UMR 5824, F-42023 Saint-Etienne, France); Eric Kamwa (Université des Antilles, Faculté de Droit et d’Economie de la Martinique and Laboratoire Caribéen de Sciences Sociales LC2S UMR CNRS 8053, F-97275 Schoelcher Cedex); Abdelmonaim Tlidi (University Cadi Ayyad of Marrakesh, GREER, National School of Applied Science-Safi, Route Sidi Bouzid, B.P. 63, 46000 Safi, Morocco)
    Abstract: For committee or multiwinner elections, the Chamberlin-Courant rule (CCR), which combines the Borda rule and the proportional representation, aims to pick the most representative committee (Chamberlin and Courant, 1983). Chamberlin and Courant (1983) have shown that if the size of the committee to be elected is k = 1 among m ≥ 3 candidates, the CCR is equivalent to the Borda rule; Kamwa and Merlin (2014) claimed that if k = m − 1, the CCR is equivalent to the k-Plurality rule. In this paper, we explore what happens for 1
    Keywords: Committee, Representativeness, Borda, Condorcet, Chamberlin-Courant, k-Scoring rule
    JEL: D71 D72
    Date: 2018
  4. By: Roberto Ramos (Banco de España); Carlos Sanz (Banco de España)
    Abstract: How do voters react to large shocks that are (mostly) outside the control of politicians? We address this question by studying the electoral effects of wildfires in Spain during 1983-2011. Using a difference-in-difference strategy, we find that a large accidental fire up to nine months ahead of a local election increases the incumbent party’s vote share by almost 8 percentage points. We find that a rally-behind-the-leader effect best explains the results. A simple formalization of this mechanism yields an implication – that the effect should be larger for stronger (more voted) incumbents – that is supported by the data.
    Keywords: voting behavior, rally behind the leader, difference-in-differences
    JEL: D72 D91
    Date: 2018–03
  5. By: Kalla, Joshua (University of California, Berkeley); Broockman, David (Stanford University)
    Abstract: Significant theories of democratic accountability hinge on how political campaigns affect Americans' candidate choices. We argue that the best estimate of the effects of campaign contact and advertising on Americans' candidates choices in general elections is zero. First, a systematic meta-analysis of 40 field experiments estimates an average effect of zero in general elections. Second, we present nine original field experiments that increase the statistical evidence in the literature about the persuasive effects of personal contact 10-fold. These experiments' average effect is also zero. In both existing and our original experiments, persuasive effects only appear to emerge in two rare circumstances. First, when candidates take unusually unpopular positions and campaigns invest unusually heavily in identifying persuadable voters. Second, when campaigns contact voters long before election day and measure effects immediately--although this early persuasion decays. These findings contribute to ongoing debates about how political elites influence citizens' judgments.
    Date: 2017–09
  6. By: Kramer, Bert S.; Milionis, Petros (Groningen University)
    Abstract: We study how domestic politics affected the decisions of countries to adhere to the classical gold standard. Using a variety of econometric techniques and controlling for a wide range of economic factors, we demonstrate that political constraints were important in the decision of countries to adopt the gold standard as well as in the decision to suspend it. Specifically we find that the probability of adherence to the gold standard was ceteris paribus lower for countries in which domestic politics were organized in a more open and democratic fashion. This effect appears to be driven largely by the extent of domestic political competition and was particularly relevant for peripheral countries.
    Date: 2018
  7. By: Yuriy Gorodnichenko; Tho Pham; Oleksandr Talavera
    Abstract: This paper studies information diffusion in social media and the role of bots in shaping public opinions. Using Twitter data on the 2016 E.U. Referendum (“Brexit”) and the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election, we find that diffusion of information on Twitter is largely complete within 1-2 hours. Stronger interactions across agents with similar beliefs are consistent with the “echo chambers” view of social media. Bots have a tangible effect on the tweeting activity of humans but the degree of bots’ influence depends on whether bots provide information consistent with humans’ priors. Overall, our results suggest that the aggressive use of Twitter bots, coupled with the fragmentation of social media and the role of sentiment, could contribute to the vote outcomes.
    JEL: D72 D83 D84
    Date: 2018–05
  8. By: Baert, Stijn; Matthijs, Herman; Verdievel, Ilse
    Abstract: In this paper, the authors examine the impact of municipal budget policy on the percentage of votes for the incumbent majority parties in subsequent elections. They contribute to the academic literature by examining the combined influence of taxes, expenditures and debt. Based on data for Flanders (Belgium) between 1994 and 2012, they find no significant association between these budget variables and the actual election results.
    Keywords: budget policy,municipal elections,yardstick voting,political economics
    JEL: D72 E62 H71 H72 P48 R50
    Date: 2018
  9. By: Alma Cohen; Crystal Yang
    Abstract: This paper investigates whether judge political affiliation contributes to racial and gender disparities in sentencing using data on over 500,000 federal defendants linked to sentencing judge. Exploiting random case assignment, we find that Republican-appointed judges sentence black defendants to 3.0 more months than similar non-blacks and female defendants to 2.0 fewer months than similar males compared to Democratic-appointed judges, 65 percent of the baseline racial sentence gap and 17 percent of the baseline gender sentence gap, respectively. These differences cannot be explained by other judge characteristics and grow substantially larger when judges are granted more discretion.
    JEL: H1 J15 J71 K0 K14
    Date: 2018–05
  10. By: Bengtsson, Erik (Department of Economic History, Lund University); Olsson, Mats (Department of Economic History, Lund University)
    Abstract: Sweden was unique in early modern Europe, in that its parliament included a peasant farmer estate. It is commonplace in Swedish and international research to consider the peasant farmer politicians as the guarantee of a liberal and egalitarian path of development. On the other hand, in the Swedish-language political history literature, the peasant politicians are often seen as rather narrow-minded, their common political program limited to the issue of keeping (their own) taxes as low as possible, and opposed to any expansion of social policy and citizenship rights. To address the role of peasant farmer politicians, this paper presents a novel dataset of the social and economic status of the peasant MPs, with benchmarks for the 1769, 1809, 1840, 1865 and 1895 parliaments. We show that the politicians were three to four times wealthier than their voters, and in the 1895 parliament even 7.8 times wealthier. They were more likely to take bourgeois surnames and their children were likely to make a transition away from the peasant class and into the middle class. The exclusiveness of the peasant politicians, which increased over the nineteenth century, has implications for their policies, and helps explain the increasing conservatism and right-ward drift of Swedish farmer politics over the century.
    Keywords: peasant farmers; parliaments; Sweden; political economy
    JEL: I31 N13 N33
    Date: 2018–06–20
  11. By: Thiago Dumont Oliveira (University of Siena); Carlos Eduardo Suprinyak (Cedeplar-UFMG)
    Abstract: In the second edition of his methodological Essay, Lionel Robbins attributes a significant role to uncertainty, dynamics and the time element. Understanding the motives that led to these revisions may offer important clues to assess what happened to political economy ever since, and how far economics has diverged from Robbins’ agenda. Our main claim is that these topics appeared on the second edition of the Essay because Robbins saw them as fundamental if economics (as a science) were to achieve its goal of being a useful tool for political economy, following the English Classical economists’ distinction between science and art. His conception of science was thus tailored to his interests in political economy, rejecting attempts to mimic the methods of the natural sciences by preserving the human element that makes economics a social science.
    Keywords: Lionel Robbins, Political Economy, Uncertainty, Time, Methodology of Economics
    JEL: B20 B31 B40
    Date: 2018–05
  12. By: Lars Lefgren; David Sims; Olga Stoddard
    Abstract: We perform an experiment to measure how changes in the effort exerted by a small fraction of a low-reward group affect the willingness of the high-reward group to vote for redistributive taxation. We find that a substantial fraction of high reward subjects vote in favor of greater redistribution when a very small fraction of high-effort individuals is added to a pool of otherwise low-effort poor. Contaminating a group of high-effort poor with a small number of low-effort individuals causes the most generous rich subjects to vote for less redistribution. These results suggest that anecdotes about the deservedness of a small group of transfer recipients may be effective in changing support for redistribution. We find large gender differences in the results. Relative to men, women respond three times more strongly to the existence of high-effort individuals among the poor. This behavior may help explain gender differences in support for redistribution more generally.
    JEL: D3 H2
    Date: 2018–05

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