nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2019‒03‒04
eight papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. Discipline, party switching and policy divergence. By Paula González; Francesca Passarelli; M. Socorro Puy
  2. Declared Support and Clientelism By Nichter, Simeon; Nunnari, Salvatore
  4. Media Competition, Information Provision and Political Participation: Evidence from French Local Newspapers and Elections, 1944-2014 By Julia Cage
  5. Charitable Behaviour and Political Ideology: Evidence for the UK By Sarah Brown; Karl Taylor
  6. Drought response in an election year: Evidence from Brazil By Claudio R. Lucinda; David Grover, Sejal Patel
  7. Exports, Jobs, Growth! Congressional Hearings on US Trade Agreements By Jieun Lee; Iain Osgood
  8. A mailshot in the dark? The impact of the UK government's lea fet on the 2016 EU referendum By Harry Pickard

  1. By: Paula González (Universidad Pablo de Olavide); Francesca Passarelli (Universidad Pablo de Olavide); M. Socorro Puy (Universidad de Málaga)
    Abstract: We develop a comparative theoretical analysis of weak versus strong party discipline. In our model, political parties first select their policy platform and, in the case of strong party discipline, they set disciplinary penalties; second, candidates select their party label and, once elected, they choose whether to toe their party line in their legislative vote. Political parties maximize vote-share and they care about their candidates' loyalty. Candidates are ideological and try to satisfy some psychological needs such as ambition and reputation. We show that: i) A party attracts more candidates to its party label, the higher its expected vote-share and the smaller the parties' political distinctiveness; ii) Legislators deviating from party-line voting arise within the majority party and provided that there is weak discipline; iii) The more legislators care about ideology and the less about their reputation, the more they deviate from party-line voting; iv) Majority parties with weak discipline can opt for more partisan policies to discourage switching behavior in legislative votes, that is, polarization incentivizes loyalty.
    Keywords: Party switching; party discipline; ideology; reputation; ambition; policy divergence.
    JEL: D7 D72 D78
    Date: 2019–02
  2. By: Nichter, Simeon; Nunnari, Salvatore
    Abstract: Recent studies of clientelism predominantly focus on how elites use rewards to influence vote choices and turnout. This article shifts attention towards citizens and their choices beyond the ballot box. Under what conditions does clientelism influence citizens' decisions to express political preferences publicly? When voters can obtain future benefits by declaring support for victorious candidates, their choices to display political paraphernalia on their homes or bodies may reflect more than just political preferences. We argue that various factors, such as political competition and candidates' monitoring ability, heighten citizens' propensity to declare support in response to clientelist inducements. Building on insights from fieldwork, formal analyses reveal how and why such factors can distort patterns of political expression observed during electoral campaigns. We conduct an experiment in Brazil, which predominantly corroborates predictions about declared support and clientelism.
    Date: 2019–01
  3. By: Koen Schoors; Laurent Weill (-)
    Abstract: We investigate whether lending by the dominant Russian state bank, Sberbank, contributed to Vladimir Putin’s ascent to power during the presidential elections of March 2000. Our hypothesis is that Sberbank corporate loans were used as incentives for managers at private firms to mobilize employees to vote for Putin. In line with our proposed voter mobilization mechanism, we find that the growth of regional corporate Sberbank loans in the months before the presidential election is related to the regional increase in votes for Putin and to the regional increase in voter turnout between the Duma election of December 1999 and the presidential election of March 2000. The effect of Sberbank firm lending on Putin votes is most pronounced in regions where the governor is affiliated with the regime and in regions with extensive private employment. The effect is less apparent in regions with a large part of their population living in single-company towns, where voter intimidation is sufficient to get the required result. Additional robustness checks and placebo regressions confirm the main findings. Our results support the view that additional Sberbank corporate loans granted prior to the March 2000 presidential election facilitated Putin’s early electoral success.
    Keywords: bank, credit policy, politics, Russia.
    JEL: G21 P34
    Date: 2019–01
  4. By: Julia Cage (Département d'économie)
    Abstract: This paper investigates the impact of increased media competition on the quantity and quality of news provided and, ultimately, on political participation. Drawing upon existing literature on vertical product differentiation, I explore the conditions under which an increase in the number of newspapers can decrease both the quantity and quality of news provided. I build a new county-level panel dataset of local newspaper presence, newspapers' newsrooms, costs and revenues and political turnout in France, from 1944 to 2014. I estimate the effect of newspaper entry by comparing counties that experience entry to similar counties in the same years that do not. Both sets of counties exhibit similar trends prior to newspaper entry, but those with entry experience substantial declines in the average number of journalists (business-stealing effect). An increased number of newspapers is also associated with fewer articles and less hard news provision. These effects are stronger in counties with more homogeneous populations, as predicted by my simple theoretical framework, whereas there is little impact in counties with more heterogeneous populations. Newspaper entry, and the associated decline in information provision, is ultimately found to decrease voter turnout at local elections.
    Keywords: Hard news; Media competition; Newspaper content; Political participation; Size of the news room; Soft news
    JEL: D72 L11 L13 L82
    Date: 2017–08
  5. By: Sarah Brown (Department of Economics, University of Sheffield, UK); Karl Taylor (Department of Economics, University of Sheffield, UK)
    Abstract: Using data from the most recent large scale UK household longitudinal survey (UKHLS), we explore the effects of political ideology on charitable behaviour, specifically monetary donations and time volunteered. The UKHLS contains detailed information on political preferences, in terms of: political affiliation; the strength of support for political parties; the level of interest in politics and the party an individual would vote for tomorrow. We employ a number of modelling frameworks including static and dynamic models and double hurdle models, which allow political influences to have differing effects across the decision to donate and the amount of money or time donated. The consistent finding across the different estimators is that being aligned to a stated political party is positively associated with donating time and money. In addition, we find that political liberalism has a larger effect on both types of philanthropic behaviour than political conservatism. The largest effects across specifications are generally for alignment with the Green Party. However, further analysis reveals that, during the period of the UK Coalition Government and after its collapse when the Conservative Party gained power, the effect of political affiliation to the Green Party on monetary donations is substantially reduced, whereas the opposite effect is found for the amount of time volunteered.
    Keywords: Monetary donations; Political affiliation; Volunteering
    JEL: C24 D64 H41 N3
    Date: 2019–02
  6. By: Claudio R. Lucinda; David Grover, Sejal Patel
    Abstract: Research on the impact of water conservation instruments rarely considers the role of electoral politics. This paper evaluates the response of a major state-owned water utility to the drought that occurred in the city of São Paulo, Brazil during 2014. The response coincided with an election for state governor. A difference-in-difference research design produces no evidence that a reward-based instrument implemented before the election reduced household consumption. Evidence is found that a penalty-based instrument implemented after the election reduced consumption by 4 to 8%. The implications of insulating water utilities’ drought response from the political-electoral cycle are discussed.
    Keywords: Water conservation; policy instrument design; political budget cycles; drought
    JEL: H12 Q25 Q28
    Date: 2019–02–19
  7. By: Jieun Lee (University of Michigan); Iain Osgood (University of Michigan)
    Abstract: Who testifies on US trade agreements before Congress and what do they say? We examine the content of Congressional testimony on US trade agreements, and the selection process which determines who testifies in the first place. We find that testimony is systematically tilted towards a sunny view of tradeÕs positive economic effects, while import competition and offshoring are generally downplayed. We argue that tradeÕs supporters strategically frame their motives for supporting trade agreements, and that pro-trade committee chairsÕ decisions on who testifies further skew testimony away from the distributive consequences of globalization within the United States. Congressional hearings on trade agreements therefore represent a key site where the influence of dominant pro-trade interests is both revealed and reinforced.
    Keywords: Congress, trade agreements, Congressional hearings, globalization
    JEL: F13 F50 P16 D72
    Date: 2018–10–26
  8. By: Harry Pickard (Department of Economics, University of Sheffield, UK)
    Abstract: In this paper I explore the causal effect of exposure to the UK government’s mailshot on vote preference in the 2016 EU referendum. I find that exposure caused a drop in the probability of voting leave by 3 percentage points. The effect is stronger in individuals who were exposed to few other sources of referendum information. For instance, females and the risk averse were even less likely to vote leave after exposure. The effect was also larger for Conservative party supporters who consumed many other sources of information. The evidence is consistent with voters being liable to persuasion. On the mechanism, I show that exposed individuals experiencea “persuasion-through-knowledge” effect, which changes beliefs on topics of contention.
    Keywords: Mass media; Mailshot; Leaflet; European Union; Brexit
    JEL: D72 J10 L82
    Date: 2019–02

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