nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2019‒04‒08
eight papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. Why are relatively poor people not more supportive of redistribution? Evidence from a survey experiment across 10 countries By Christopher Hoy; Franziska Mager
  2. Voting and Contributing While the Group is Watching By Emeric Henry; Charles Louis-Sidois
  3. The Myth of Political Reason - The Moral and Emotional Foundations of Political Cognition and US Politics By Ryan Wilson
  4. Facts, Alternative Facts, and Fact Checking in Times of Post-Truth Politics By Oscar Barrera; Sergei Guriev; Emeric Henry; Ekaterina Zhuravskaya
  5. Political Connections and Access to Brazilian Development Bank’s Loans By André Medeiros Sztutman; Dante Mendes Aldrighi
  6. Coups, Justification, and Democracy By Taku Yukawa; Kaori Kushima; Kaoru Hidaka
  7. Coming out in America: AIDS, Politics, and Cultural Change By Raquel Fernández; Sahar Parsa; Martina Viarengo
  8. Understanding protectionism: Empirical analysis of protectionist attitudes in the EU By Kolev, Galina V.

  1. By: Christopher Hoy (Australian National University, Australia); Franziska Mager (Oxfam Great Britain)
    Abstract: We test a key assumption of conventional theories about preferences for redistribution, which is that relatively poor people should be the most in favor of redistribution. We conduct a randomized survey experiment with over 30,000 participants across 10 countries, half of whom are informed of their position in the national income distribution. Contrary to prevailing wisdom, people who are told they are relatively poorer than they thought are less concerned about inequality and are not more supportive of redistribution. This finding is driven by people using their own living standard as a "benchmark" for what they consider acceptable for others.
    Keywords: Inequality, social mobility, redistribution, political economy.
    JEL: D31 D63 D72 D83 O50 P16 H23
    Date: 2019–01
  2. By: Emeric Henry (Département d'économie); Charles Louis-Sidois
    Abstract: Members of groups and organizations often have to decide on rules that regulate their contributions to common tasks. They typically differ in their propensity to contribute and often care about the image they project: in particular, they want to be perceived by other group members as being high contributors. In such environments we study, from both a positive and normative perspective, the interaction between the way members vote on rules and their subsequent contribution decisions. We show how endogenous norms can emerge. We study in particular the role played by the visibility of individual actions, votes or contributions. While making votes visible always increases welfare in our setting, making contributions public can be welfare decreasing as it makes some rules more likely to be rejected.
    Keywords: Image concern; Voting; Public good
    JEL: D71 D72 H41 D23
    Date: 2018–09
  3. By: Ryan Wilson
    Abstract: The current ascendancy of right-wing populists across western democracies is a concerning trend, and so far, the left has not managed to mount an effective counterstrategy to arrest its momentum. Much of the rhetoric of these right-wing populists has focused on evoking fear and suspicion, verging on hatred, of outsiders and fellow countrymen and women with opposing political ideologies, to great effect. The importance of understanding why certain rhetoric is effective cannot be understated, and the works of George Lakoff, Jonathan Haidt, and Drew Westen that illuminate the moral and emotional factors behind how individuals interpret and respond to inputs of a political nature are reviewed and synthesised. IndividualsÂ’ underlying moral mental structures and the emotional responses that they can trigger must be understood in order to generate political messaging that resonates strongly with its target audience and consequently increases the likelihood of their actuation to vote. The recent phenomenon of individualisation, stemming from the current era of reflexive modernity is analysed within the context of divergent conservative and liberal moral matrices, and is found to be disproportionately ailing the liberal side of politics. In delineating the key elements of liberal and conservative morality, the existence of liberal moral tenets that are discordant with longstanding liberal communitarian ideals were revealed. In contrast, conservative morality appears to exhibit an inherent coherence that may contribute to conservatismÂ’s resilience in the face of reflexive modernity and disparate policy priorities of its constituents. The importance of understanding the moral and emotional foundations of political cognition is emphasised not only for its potential to bolster the efficacy of left-wing political parties, but also to provide an avenue by which the increasing hostility across the political spectrum can be subdued.
    Date: 2019
  4. By: Oscar Barrera (Ecole d'Économie de Paris - Paris School of Economics (PSE)); Sergei Guriev (Département d'économie); Emeric Henry (Département d'économie); Ekaterina Zhuravskaya (Ecole d'Économie de Paris - Paris School of Economics)
    Abstract: How effective is fact checking in countervailing “alternative facts,” i.e., misleading statements by politicians? In a randomized online experiment during the 2017 French presidential election campaign, we subjected subgroups of 2480 French voters to alternative facts by the extreme-right candidate, Marine Le Pen, and/or corresponding facts about the European refugee crisis from official sources. We find that: (i) alter- native facts are highly persuasive; (ii) fact checking improves factual knowledge of voters (iii) but it does not affect policy conclusions or support for the candidate; (iv) exposure to facts alone does not decrease support for the candidate, even though voters update their knowledge. We argue that the main channel is that fact checking increases the salience of the immigration issue.
    Date: 2018–12
  5. By: André Medeiros Sztutman; Dante Mendes Aldrighi
    Abstract: Prior studies suggest that politically connected firms manage to buy the access to subsidized loans from the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES) by financing candidates to federal deputies in election campaigns. Nonetheless, and although firms that most donated to these candidates were indeed the same that subsequently most tapped BNDES’ subsidized credit, no anecdotal piece of information has been reported referring to deputies being accused of interfering in BNDES lending policy to benefit their donors. Proxying political connections by the 100 largest Brazilian business groups’ donations to candidates in the 2006 election for the House of Representatives, we also documented a positive correlation between these groups’ donations and the amount they borrowed from the bank. However, carrying out regression discontinuity analysis, we found no evidence that federal deputies elected by a small margin of votes had systematically affected BNDES credit allocation decisions. The discrepant empirical results may indicate the influence on the access to the bank’s loans through political connections other than direct donations to winning federal deputies.
    Keywords: Election campaign donations; development banks; subsidized credit; regression discontinuity design.
    JEL: D72 G38 H81
    Date: 2019–04–01
  6. By: Taku Yukawa (Associate Professor, Osaka School of International Public Policy, Osaka University); Kaori Kushima (Ph.D. Student, Osaka School of International Public Policy, Osaka University); Kaoru Hidaka (Specially Appointed Assistant Professor, Osaka School of International Public Policy, Osaka University)
    Abstract: Coups are inherently illegal actions and are outside the conventional rules of political engagement. How, then, have the military organizations that staged coups justified their actions? What were the objectives cited for these coups? We have created a unique dataset of justifications for all the successful coups that had occurred between 1975 and 2014. The results show that while “democracy” began to be cited as a justification for coups after the Cold War, this justification became redundant in the latter half of the 2000s. This article demonstrates how the rise and fall of the anti-coup sentiment in the international community led to the redundancy of the aforementioned justification. These findings may support the existence of “democratic coups,” an issue that has been debated vigorously in recent years, although such coups have already become less frequent.
    Keywords: coups, justification, democracy
    Date: 2019–03
  7. By: Raquel Fernández; Sahar Parsa; Martina Viarengo
    Abstract: The last few decades witnessed a dramatic change in public opinion towards gay people. This paper uses a difference-in-difference empirical strategy to investigate the hypothesis that the AIDS epidemic and the ensuing endogenous political process led to this transformation. We show that the process of change was discontinuous over time and show suggestive evidence that the '92 presidential election followed by the “don't ask, don't tell” debate led to a change in attitudes. In accordance with our hypothesis, this change was greater in states with high-AIDS rate. Our analysis suggests that if individuals in low-AIDS states had experienced the same average AIDS rate as a high-AIDS state, the change in their approval rate from the '70s to the '90s would have been 50 percent greater.
    JEL: J15 P16 Z13
    Date: 2019–03
  8. By: Kolev, Galina V.
    Abstract: A changing landscape in trade policy in recent years is undoubtedly related to changing voter preferences. Based on Eurobarometer survey data, the present paper investigates both the factors determining the level of support for protectionism and the striking inconsistency of responses to questions related to free trade and protectionism. EU citizens are more likely to support protectionism when the economy runs smoothly and rejects protectionism if the national economy is not in the best shape. Unemployment, bad economic situations as well as negative feelings regarding immigration are identified as possible reasons to call for protectionism while respondents are favouring free trade at the same time. The inconsistent attitudes toward free trade and protectionism are a matter of lacking knowledge of political issues. Better educated EU citizens are all less likely to support free trade and protectionism at the same time. This applies to respondents who show a higher level of knowledge regarding basic EU-related facts as well as to those who discuss political matters with friends more often. A possible way to tackle this problem is a broad information strategy covering the topics of international econom-ics across several media channels. Especially radio, press and internet are identified as media which seem to contribute to a better understanding of these complex issues.
    JEL: F13 F59
    Date: 2019

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