nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2019‒01‒21
thirteen papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. Comparing Voting Methods: 2016 US Presidential Election By Herrade Igersheim; François Durand; Aaron Hamlin; Jean-François Laslier
  2. The Political Cycle of Road Traffic Accidents By Paola Bertoli; Veronica Grembi
  3. Natural Disasters, Moral Hazard, and Special Interests in Congress By Ethan Kaplan; Jörg L. Spenkuch; Haishan Yuan
  4. Is It Worth It? On the Returns to Holding Political Office By Heléne Berg
  5. Measuring the Competitiveness of Elections By Gary W. Cox; Jon H. Fiva; Daniel M. Smith
  6. Does Education Indoctrinate? The Effect of Education on Political Preferences In Democracies and Autocracies By Ishac Diwan; Irina Vartanova
  7. Towards a General Theory of Survey Response: Likert Scales Vs. Quadratic Voting for Attitudinal Research By Cavaillé, Charlotte; Chen, Daniel L.; Van Der Straeten, Karine
  8. Does Information Break the Political Resource Curse? Experimental Evidence from Mozambique By Alex Armand, Alexander Coutts, Pedro C. Vicente,Inês Vilela
  9. How do Europeans differ in their attitudes to immigration?: Findings from the European Social Survey 2002/03 – 2016/17 By Anthony Heath; Lindsay Richards
  10. The Economics and Politics of Revoking NAFTA By Raphael Auer; Barthélémy Bonadio; Andrei A. Levchenko
  11. Preferences for Redistribution and International Migration By Ilpo Kauppinen; Panu Poutvaara
  12. Wars, Local Political Institutions, and Fiscal Capacity : Evidence from Six Centuries of German History By Becker, Sascha O.; Ferrara, Andreas; Melander, Eric; Pascali, Luigi
  13. Motivated Reasoning in the Field: Partisanship in Precedent, Prose, Vote, and Retirement in U.S. Circuit Courts, 1800-2013 By Ash, Elliott; Chen, Daniel L.; Lu, Wei

  1. By: Herrade Igersheim (BETA - Bureau d'Économie Théorique et Appliquée - INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique - UNISTRA - Université de Strasbourg - UL - Université de Lorraine - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique); François Durand (Nokia Bell Labs [Paris-Saclay]); Aaron Hamlin (Center for election science); Jean-François Laslier (PSE - Paris School of Economics, PJSE - Paris Jourdan Sciences Economiques - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)
    Abstract: Before the 2016 US presidential elections, more than 2,000 participants participated to a survey in which they were asked their opinions about the candidates, and were also asked to vote according to different alternative voting rules, in addition to plurality: approval voting, range voting, and instant runoff voting. The participants were split into two groups, a first one facing a short set of four candidates (Clinton, Trump, Johnson and Stein), and a second one facing a long set of nine candidates (the previous four plus Sanders, Cruz, McMullin, Bloomberg, and Castle). The paper studies three issues: (1) How do U.S. voters effectively use these alternative rules? (2) What kind of candidates, in terms of individual preferences, is favored by which rule? (3) Which rules empirically satisfy the independence of irrelevant alternatives? Our results evidence that Bernie Sanders stands out as the "best" candidate in terms of individual preferences (using any standard criterion), and that evaluative voting rules such as approval voting and range voting might lead to this outcome, contrary to direct plurality and instant runoff voting (that elects Clinton) and to the official voting rule (that elected Trump).
    Keywords: Approval voting,range voting,instant runoff,strategic voting,US Presidential election
    Date: 2018–12
  2. By: Paola Bertoli; Veronica Grembi
    Abstract: Road traffic accidents often mean lost productivity and medical expenditures. We explain trends in traffic accidents as a function of the political cycle using municipal data from Italy. We show that during municipal election years, the accident rate increases by 2.2%, with a 2.5% increase in the injury rate but no effect on the fatality rate. The effects are stronger in the two quarters prior the quarter in which the election is held, when the electoral campaign is intense, and in the second quarter after the election, when the elected mayor takes office. We argue that this is the result of a decrease in ticket rates during election years, as the expenditures on traffic police increase. Our results are robustly driven by the municipal political cycle defined in different ways, and their magnitude and direction are not explained by spillover effects between municipalities. Proximity to a national police station reduces the impact of local elections on injury rates.
    Keywords: road traffic accidents; political cycle; municipalities; elections;
    JEL: H70 H75 D72
    Date: 2018–12
  3. By: Ethan Kaplan; Jörg L. Spenkuch; Haishan Yuan
    Abstract: We exploit the precise timing of natural disasters to provide empirical evidence on the connection between electoral accountability and politicians’ support for special interests. We show that, in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, the evening news substantially reduce their coverage of politics. At the very same time, members of Congress become more likely to adopt the positions of special-interest donors as they vote on bills. Our findings are consistent with standard theories of political agency, according to which politicians are more inclined to serve special interests when, for exogenous reasons, they are less intensely monitored.
    Keywords: natural disasters, moral hazard, toll-call voting, special interests, Congress
    Date: 2018
  4. By: Heléne Berg
    Abstract: This paper estimate causal effects of being elected in a local election on monetary returns. The claim for causality can be made thanks to a research design where the income of some candidate who just barely won a seat is compared to that of some other candidate who was close to winning a seat for the same party, but ultimately did not. The design is made possible thanks to comprehensive data covering all political candidates in the period 1991{2006. I establish that monetary returns are absent both in the short and long run. Instead, politicians seem to be motivated by non-monetary returns, and I show that being elected locally once can be an effective starting point for enjoying such payoffs.
    Keywords: returns to politics, incumbency effects, regression discontinuity design
    JEL: C23 D72 J44
    Date: 2018
  5. By: Gary W. Cox; Jon H. Fiva; Daniel M. Smith
    Abstract: The concept of electoral competition plays a central role in many subfields of political science, but no consensus exists on how to measure it. One key challenge is how to conceptualize and measure electoral competitiveness at the district level across alternative electoral systems. Recent efforts to meet this challenge have introduced general measures of competitiveness which rest on explicit calculations about how votes translate into seats, but also implicit assumptions about how effort maps into votes (and how costly effort is). We investigate how assumptions about the effort-to-votes mapping affect the units in which competitiveness is best measured, arguing in favor of vote-share denominated measures and against vote-share-per-seat measures. Whether elections under multimember proportional representation systems are judged more or less competitive than single-member plurality or runoff elections depends directly on the units in which competitiveness is assessed (and hence on assumptions about how effort maps into votes).
    Keywords: competitiveness, measurement, electoral systems, mobilization, turnout
    JEL: D72
    Date: 2018
  6. By: Ishac Diwan (Paris Sciences et Lettres, Columbia University and ERF); Irina Vartanova
    Abstract: Using World Value Survey and European Value Study data spanning 96 countries and over 300,000 individuals, we first establish that the regime type individuals live under moderates the correlation between education and political values. While more education is always associated with more political emancipation, the effect is larger in democracies than in autocracies. We then investigate two mechanisms that can lead to these outcomes – indoctrination through the education system, and the social and political interests of the educated. First, we look at all countries that have undergone regime change, and ask whether individuals educated under different regimes hold different political values. We find evidence that those educated under a democratic system have a larger political return to education than those educated in autocracies. Second, using the full sample, we relate individuals’ political values to both the regime under which they have studied, and the regime under which they currently live. We find that the educated tend to be more conservative politically when they live in anocracies, than when they live in democracies or autocracies.
    Date: 2018–04–12
  7. By: Cavaillé, Charlotte; Chen, Daniel L.; Van Der Straeten, Karine
    Abstract: "Likert scales" are the most standard and widespread instrument in survey research when measuring public opinion on political and economic issues. In this simple approach, respondents are given the opportunity to voice their agreement or disagreement on a set of issues by placing their attitudes on a scale that runs from ìstrongly disagreeîto ìstrongly agree.î One assumption commonly made by social scientists using such scales is that they provide faithful - if noisy - measures of respondentsíviews. We challenge this assumption, highlighting several reasons why respondents may be expected to sysmatically exaggerate their views in political surveys using Likert scales. We propose a simple decision-theoretic model of survey answers to discuss whether Quadratic Voting might overcome these pathologies. We provide conditions under which one might expect Quadratic Voting to outperform Likert scales.
    Date: 2018–11
  8. By: Alex Armand, Alexander Coutts, Pedro C. Vicente,Inês Vilela
    Abstract: The political resource curse is the idea that natural resources can lead to the deterioration of public policies through corruption and rent-seeking by those closest to political power. One prominent consequence is the emergence of conflict. This paper takes this theory to the data for the case of Mozambique, where a substantial discovery of natural gas recently took place. Focusing on the anticipation of a resource boom and the behavior of local political structures and communities, a large-scale field experiment was designed and implemented to follow the dissemination of information about the newly-discovered resources. Two types of treatments provided variation in the degree of dissemination: one with information targeting only local political leaders, the other with information and deliberation activities targeting communities at large. A wide variety of theory-driven outcomes is measured through surveys, behavioral activities, lab-in-the-field experiments, and georeferenced administrative data about local con- flict. Information given only to leaders increases elite capture and rent-seeking, while infor- mation and deliberation targeted at citizens increases mobilization and accountability-related outcomes, and decreases violence. While the political resource curse is likely to be in play, the dissemination of information to communities at large has a countervailing effect.
    Keywords: Natural Resources, Curse, Natural Gas, Information, Deliberation, Rent-seeking, Mozambique.
    JEL: D72 O13 O55 P16
    Date: 2019–01
  9. By: Anthony Heath (Centre for Social Investigation, Nuffield College, Oxford); Lindsay Richards (Centre for Social Investigation, Nuffield College, Oxford)
    Abstract: Nordic countries such as Sweden, Norway and Finland have been consistently the most favourable to immigration while eastern European countries such as the Czech Republic and Hungary have been the least favourable. Despite their relatively high average levels of support for immigration, however, many countries of western and northern Europe are quite strongly polarized internally along educational and age lines. This can perhaps explain why political divisions over immigration can be so salient in these countries. Comparing results from 2002/03 and 2016/07, one finds that European attitudes were on average quite stable. However, a number of countries became more generous while several others became more negative. On the issue of government policy towards refugees, there was a marked shift in a negative direction after the 2015/16 refugee crisis. Countries such as Austria, Germany, and Sweden which had experienced large inflows of refugees showed particularly large declines in public support for generous government policy towards asylum requests.
    Keywords: European Social Survey, Immigration, Public opinion, Refugees, Symbolic boundaries
    JEL: F22 J16 J61
    Date: 2019–01–16
  10. By: Raphael Auer; Barthélémy Bonadio; Andrei A. Levchenko
    Abstract: We provide a quantitative assessment of both the aggregate and the distributional effects of revoking NAFTA using a multi-country, multi-sector, multi-factor model of world production and trade with global input-output linkages. Revoking NAFTA would reduce US welfare by about 0.2%, and Canadian and Mexican welfare by about 2%. The distributional impacts of revoking NAFTA across workers in different sectors are an order of magnitude larger in all three countries, ranging from -2.7 to 2.26% in the United States. We combine the quantitative results with information on the geographic distribution of sectoral employment, and compute average real wage changes in each US congressional district, Mexican state, and Canadian province. We then examine the political correlates of the economic effects. Congressional district-level real wage changes are negatively correlated with the Trump vote share in 2016: districts that voted more for Trump would on average experience greater real wage reductions if NAFTA is revoked.
    JEL: F11 F13 F16 R13
    Date: 2018–12
  11. By: Ilpo Kauppinen; Panu Poutvaara
    Abstract: The Tiebout hypothesis suggests that people who migrate from more to less redistributive countries are more negative towards redistribution than non-migrants. However, differences between migrants’ and non-migrants’ redistributive preferences might also reflect self-interest. We present a model in-corporating these competing mechanisms and test it using survey data on Danish emigrants and non-migrants. We find strong support for the Tiebout hypothesis among men, while women’s preference patterns are opposite to what the hypothesis predicts. Even though emigrants neither pay taxes nor receive benefits in their country of origin, they tend to support policies that would be beneficial for people like themselves.
    Keywords: Migration; emigration; welfare state; redistribution; political preferences
    JEL: D64 D72 F22 J61 H20
    Date: 2019
  12. By: Becker, Sascha O. (Department of Economics, and CAGE (Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy), University of Warwick, CEPR, CESifo, ifo, IZA and ROA); Ferrara, Andreas (Department of Economics, and CAGE (Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy), University of Warwick); Melander, Eric (Department of Economics, and CAGE (Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy), University of Warwick); Pascali, Luigi (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, and CAGE (Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy), University of Warwick)
    Abstract: We study the effect of warfare on the development of state capacity and representative institutions using novel data on cities and territories in the German lands between 1200 and 1750. More specifically, we show that cities with a higher conflict exposure establish more sophisticated tax systems, but also develop larger councils, councils that are more likely to be elected by citizens, and more likely to be independent of other local institutions. These results are consistent with the idea of a trade-off between more efficient taxation and powersharing proposed in earlierwork. We make head way on establishing a causal role of war sby using changes to Germannobles’ positions within the European nobility network to instrument for conflict.
    JEL: D72
    Date: 2018
  13. By: Ash, Elliott; Chen, Daniel L.; Lu, Wei
    Abstract: We document motivated reasoning among U.S. judges. We employ a supervised learning approach to measure partisanship of text and citations of circuit court opinions. We find persistent but low partisanship of language overall, with the notable exception of civil rights and First Amendment, which liberals and conservatives have mobilized in certain periods. Citations display a significant level of partisanship and increase over time. We also document an increase in vote partisanship–dissenting only against judges appointed by the opposing party’s president. We show an increase in partisan retirement–strategically timing retirements that sclerotize the judiciary and stymie democratic churn. Finally, we show that motivated reasoning grows with judicial experience, but not age, and is more pronounced for Republican appointees.
    Date: 2018–06

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