nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2019‒09‒09
seventeen papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. An Experiment in Candidate Selection By Casey, Katherine; Kamara, Abou Bakarr; Meriggi, Niccolo
  2. Gender Differences in Political Career Progression: Evidence from U.S. Elections By Brown, Ryan; Mansour, Hani; O'Connell, Stephen D.; Reeves, James
  3. Electoral Campaign Financing and Criminal Policy By Brunela Kullolli; Ilirjan Hysa
  4. Rain, Emotions and Voting for the Status Quo By Meier, Amando N.; Schmid, Lukas; Stutzer, Alois
  5. On the Political Economy of Redistribution and Public Good Provision By Stefano Barbieri; Koray Caglayan
  6. How Effective Are Monetary Incentives to Vote? Evidence from a Nationwide Policy By Gonzales, Mariella; León-Ciliotta, Gianmarco; Martinez, Luis
  7. Gains from Early Support of a New Political Party By Leonardi, Marco; Mossucca, Rossella; Schivardi, Fabiano; Severgnini, Battista
  8. Disincentives from Redistribution: Evidence on a Dividend of Democracy By Rupert Sausgruber; Axel Sonntag; Jean-Robert Tyran
  9. Women’s preferences for social spending: theory and evidence from Spanish political representatives By Ascensión Andina-Díaz; Paula Penalva-Planelles; M. Socorro Puy
  10. Voting on Sanctioning Institutions in Open and Closed Communities: Experimental Evidence By Ramón Cobo-Reyes; Gabriel Katz; Thomas Markussen; Simone Meraglia
  11. Perceived Immigration And Voting Behavior. By Bellucci, Davide; Conzo, Pierluigi; Zotti, Roberto
  12. Strict Voter Identification Laws, Turnout, and Election Outcomes By Mark Hoekstra; Vijetha Koppa
  13. The Impact of Mass Media On Voting Behavior: The Cross-Country Evidence By Walid Merouani
  14. Racial Disparities in Voting Wait Times: Evidence from Smartphone Data By M. Keith Chen; Kareem Haggag; Devin G. Pope; Ryne Rohla
  15. A Theory of Power Wars By Herrera, Helios; Morelli, Massimo; Nunnari, Salvatore
  16. Regional lobbying and structural funds: do regional representation offices in Brussels deliver? By Rodríguez-Pose, Andrés; Courty, Julie
  17. The interplay of economic, social and political fragmentation By Steven Jacob Bosworth; Dennis J. Snower

  1. By: Casey, Katherine (Stanford Graduate School of Business and NBER); Kamara, Abou Bakarr (International Growth Centre); Meriggi, Niccolo (International Growth Centre)
    Abstract: Are ordinary citizens or political party leaders better positioned to select candidates? While the direct vote primary system in the United States lets citizens choose, it is exceptional, as the vast majority of democracies rely instead on party officials to appoint or nominate candidates. Theoretically, the consequences of these distinct design choices on the selectivity of the overall electoral system are unclear: while party leaders may be better informed about candidate qualifications, they may value traits--like party loyalty or willingness to pay for the nomination--at odds with identifying the best performer. To make progress on this question, we partnered with both major political parties in Sierra Leone to experimentally vary how much say voters, as opposed to party officials, have in selecting Parliamentary candidates. We find evidence that more democratic selection procedures increase the likelihood that parties select the candidate most preferred by voters, favor candidates with stronger records of local public goods provision, and alter the allocation of payments from potential candidates to party officials.
    JEL: D72 H1 P16
    Date: 2019–08
  2. By: Brown, Ryan (University of Colorado Denver); Mansour, Hani (University of Colorado Denver); O'Connell, Stephen D. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology); Reeves, James (University of Michigan)
    Abstract: This paper establishes the presence of a substantial gender gap in the relationship between state legislature service and the subsequent pursuit of a Congressional career. The empirical approach uses a sample of mixed-gender elections to compare the differential political career progression of women who closely win versus closely lose a state legislature election relative to an analogous impact for men who closely win or lose a state legislature election. We find that the effect of serving a state legislative term on the likelihood of running for a Congressional seat is twice as large for men as women, and its effect on winning a Congressional race is five times larger for men than women. These gaps emerge early in legislators' careers, widen over time, and are seen alongside a higher propensity for female state legislators to recontest state legislature seats. This gender gap in advancing to Congress among state legislators is not generated by gender differences in previously accumulated political experience, political party affiliation, or constituency characteristics. After investigating several explanations, we conclude that the gender gap in political career progression is consistent with the existence of a glass ceiling in politics.
    Keywords: elections, discrimination, politicians, gender gap
    JEL: J16 J24 D72 J71
    Date: 2019–08
  3. By: Brunela Kullolli (?Aleksander Moisiu? University of Durres); Ilirjan Hysa (I.S.K Law Firm Durres)
    Abstract: Money is power, prestige and status in a society. In a democratic society, money-giving power can be as great as it can affect every aspect of society, especially in a state's policy. The power of money is even more powerful in countries where democracy is fragile. The money control power on political influence is weak in countries where democracy is not consolidated and in transitional societies. Through the present paper, I will contribute by analyzing the impact of money on the Albanian state politics, examined from the point of view of electoral financing as well as of political parties' and individuals' financing during the electoral campaigns.The first part will address and analyze the influence of money and electoral financing on the constitutional principles of the right to vote and on the right to a fair representation of the elected representatives in state institutions through the electoral elections. The present part is also on constitutional requirements for electoral and fair elections and on the principles of election campaigns.The second part will analyze the way of financing of the electoral subjects, the Albanian legal framework for financing political parties and individuals in electoral campaigns, and the legal framework of the Albanian political parties in the way of financing. It will also analyze the state mechanisms of the financial control of electoral campaigns, the illegal financing of election campaigns as well as the violation of the constitutional principles for free and fair elections.The third part will deal with and analyze the criminal policies in ensuring the principle of free and fair elections in the terms of unlawful campaign financing, the incriminating actions that affect the electoral elections in the Criminal Code, the incrimination of illegal financing of the subjects participating in campaigns and electoral elections, the criminal policy that the Albanian state should follow in preventing illegal financing and the due legal mechanisms for the financial control of the electoral campaign subjects.ConclusionsIllegal financing of the electoral campaigns is a current phenomenon of the Albanian society which leads to the incrimination of Albanian politics. The illegal financing of the subjects that participate in the electoral campaigns comes from the organized crime or from people with suspicion in criminal activities and this leads to the decision to give power to those who protect the interests of the latter and not the interests of the electorate or the democratic interests of a state.The intensification of the fight against illegal financing in electoral campaigns has created not only the full legal framework for the prevention of illegal financing, but also mechanisms in practice for the implementation not only of the law, but also for the practical prevention of uncontrolled financing of electoral subjects.The imposition of harsh criminal policies on the illicit financing of electoral campaigns and the revision of the Criminal Code in incriminating all illegal anti-trust actions that affect free and fair elections may be the most important step towards combating illegal funding of electoral campaigns. Illegal financing of electoral campaigns in Albania calls into question free and fair elections and discusses the fundamental principles of representation of political entities in governmental institutions so intervention in law and criminal policy is current and immediate.
    Keywords: Money, electoral campaigns, unlawful financing, criminal policy, legal mechanisms.
    JEL: K14
    Date: 2019–07
  4. By: Meier, Amando N.; Schmid, Lukas (University of Basel); Stutzer, Alois (University of Basel)
    Abstract: Do emotions aect the decision between change and the status quo? We exploit exogenous variation in emotions caused by rain and analyze data on more than 870,000 municipal vote outcomes in Switzerland to address this question. The empirical tests are based on administrative ballot outcomes and individual postvote survey data. We find that rain decreases the share of votes for political change. Our robustness checks suggest that this finding is not driven by changes in the composition of the electorate and changes in information acquisition. In addition, we provide evidence that rain might have altered the outcome of several high-stake votes. We discuss the psychological mechanism and document that rain reduces the willingness to take risks, a pattern that is consistent with the observed reduction in the support for change.
    Keywords: Emotions ; voting ; status quo ; risk aversion ; rain ; direct democracy ; turnout
    JEL: D01 D02 D72 D91
    Date: 2019–08
  5. By: Stefano Barbieri (Stone Center for Latin American Studies, Department of Economics, Tulane University); Koray Caglayan (Department of Economics, Tulane University)
    Abstract: We analyze the public provision of public goods and income redistribution in a median voter framework. We review existing related frameworks, devoting special attention to their implications for applied analysis. Motivated by empirical regularities discovered in the analysis of CEQ data linking the percentage of “net receivers” to the levels of public good provision, we present an extension of the classic framework of taxation and public good provision that departs from the assumption of a simple proportional tax in favor of a flat tax with exemption. Adjusting the exemption level, we capture tax schemes that are restricted to generating different numbers of net receivers. We then let voters decide on the tax rate and the quantity of public good provided. We find that, in a standard framework, the public good level can increase or decrease in the proportion of “net receivers,” according to the relationship that exists between the income of the decisive voter and average income in the population conditional on income being larger than the exemption. This suggests that, to account for the richness of comparative statics we observe, the framework used should encompass additional considerations such as turnout and the presence of substitutes for government provided public goods.
    Keywords: public good provision, income distribution, median voter, flat tax, exemption levels
    JEL: H21 D31 D72
    Date: 2019–03
  6. By: Gonzales, Mariella; León-Ciliotta, Gianmarco; Martinez, Luis
    Abstract: We combine two natural experiments, multiple empirical strategies and administrative data to study voters' response to marginal changes to the fi ne for electoral abstention in Peru. A smaller fi ne leads to a robust decrease in voter turnout. However, the drop in turnout caused by a full fi ne reduction is less than 20% the size of that caused by an exemption from compulsory voting, indicating the predominance of the non-monetary incentives provided by the mandate to vote. Additionally, almost 90% of the votes generated by a marginally larger fi ne are blank or invalid, lending support to the hypothesis of rational abstention. Higher demand for information and larger long-run eff ects following an adjustment to the value of the fine point to the existence of informational frictions that limit adaptation to institutional changes.
    Keywords: compulsory voting; External Validity; Informational frictions; Peru; voter registration; Voter turnout
    JEL: D72 D78 D83 K42
    Date: 2019–07
  7. By: Leonardi, Marco (University of Milan); Mossucca, Rossella (LearLab); Schivardi, Fabiano (LUISS Guido Carli University); Severgnini, Battista (Copenhagen Business School)
    Abstract: We study the potential benefits and mechanisms of firms' political connections by analyzing the Italian experience, where, in the early nineties, Silvio Berlusconi, a rich TV tycoon, became the leader of the conservative political coalition. Using firm-level data, we find that the 101 companies supporting Berlusconi's successful bid to become prime minister did better than controls in terms of sales and employment but not of productivity. The results are confirmed when we instrument the decision to support Berlusconi with electoral outcomes in the 1921 elections. We also find suggestive evidence that the supporters' superior performance is stronger in sectors with high external financial dependence and high advertising intensity.
    Keywords: political connections, productivity, policy regulation
    JEL: G32 G38 D72
    Date: 2019–08
  8. By: Rupert Sausgruber (Vienna University of Economics and Business); Axel Sonntag (University of Vienna and IHS Vienna); Jean-Robert Tyran (Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen, Denmark)
    Abstract: We experimentally study the disincentive effect of taxing work and redistributing tax revenues when redistribution is imposed vs. democratically chosen in a vote. We find a "dividend of democracy" in the sense that the disincentive effect is substantially smaller when redistribution is chosen in a vote than when it is imposed. Redistribution seems to be more legitimate, and hence less demotivating, when accepted in a vote.
    Keywords: Redistribution, disincentive effect, voting, legitimacy, realeffort task, lab experiment
    JEL: C92 D31 D72 H23
    Date: 2019–06–03
  9. By: Ascensión Andina-Díaz (Department of Economics, University of Málaga); Paula Penalva-Planelles; M. Socorro Puy (Department of Economics, University of Málaga)
    Abstract: This paper analyzes how the preferences of political representatives for social spending differ across gender groups, and what the effects of gender differences are for the equilibrium policies. We use a unique survey data from the CIS in Spain, comprising a sample of 350 male and 230 female political representatives of national chambers (Congress and Senate) and regional parliaments. Our findings suggest that, in general, female representatives have a stronger preference for social spending than male representatives. Interestingly, these gender differences arise within members of the right-wing party (of PP), whereas left-wing representatives (of PSOE) males and females, are more homogenous. In a comparison between national versus regional representatives, we find that within representatives of national chambers, women over men show on average, an additional probability of 25 percent points of self-reporting preferences for additional spending in education and pensions. However, within representative members of regional parliaments, gender differences in preferences are not statistically significant. We also provide a theoretical model, which serves us to understand the effects of gender party composition on the equilibrium policies. Our model reveals that gender quotas benefit right-wing parties. Intuitively, women provide moderation to rightist parties, which in turn produces electoral advantage.
    Keywords: Gender differences; preferences for social spending; gender quotas; Downsian electoral competition
    JEL: D72 H75 J16
    Date: 2019–09
  10. By: Ramón Cobo-Reyes (Department of Economics, American University of Sharjah); Gabriel Katz (Department of Politics, University of Exeter); Thomas Markussen (Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen, Denmark); Simone Meraglia (Department of Politics, University of Exeter)
    Abstract: We experimentally analyze the eect of endogenous group formation on the type of sanctioning institutions emerging in a society. We allocate subjects to one of two groups. Subjects play a repeated public goods game and vote on the sanctioning system (formal or informal) to be implemented in their group. We compare this environment to one in which subjects are allowed to (i) vote on the sanctioning system and (ii) move between groups. We find that the possibility of moving between groups leads to a larger proportion of subjects voting for formal sanctions. This result is mainly driven by subjects in groups with relatively high initial levels of contribution to the public good, who are more likely to vote for informal sanctions when groups are closed than when they are open.
    Keywords: Sanctions, Cooperation, Group Formation, Voting, Experiment
    JEL: C73 C91 C92 D72 H41
    Date: 2019–05–23
  11. By: Bellucci, Davide; Conzo, Pierluigi; Zotti, Roberto (University of Turin)
    Abstract: A growing number of studies have found significant effects of inflows of migrants on electoral outcomes. However, the role of perceived immigration, which in many European countries is above official migration statistics, is overlooked. This paper investigates the effects of perceived threat of immigration on voting behavior, by looking at whether local elections in Italy were affected by sea arrivals of refugees before the election day. While, upon arrival, refugees cannot freely go to the destination municipality, landing episodes were discussed in the media especially before the elections, thereby influencing voters’ perceptions about the arrivals. We develop an index of exposure to arrivalsthat varies over time and across municipalities depending on the nationality of the incoming refugees. This index captures the impact of perceived immigration on voting behavior, on top of the effects of real immigration as proxied for by the stock of immigrants and the presence of refugee centers. Results show that, in municipalities where refugees are more expected to arrive, participationdecreases, whereas protest votes and support for extreme-right, populist and anti-immigration parties increase. Since these effects are driven by areas with fast broadband availability, we argue that antiimmigration campaigns played a key role.
    Date: 2019–06
  12. By: Mark Hoekstra; Vijetha Koppa
    Abstract: Since 2000, ten states have enacted strict voter identification laws, which require that voters show identification in order for their votes to count. While proponents argue these laws prevent voter fraud and protect the integrity of elections, opponents argue they disenfranchise low-income and minority voters. In this paper, we document the extent to which these laws can affect voter turnout and election outcomes. We do so using historical data on more than 2,000 races in Florida and Michigan, which both allow and track ballots cast without identification. Results indicate that at most only 0.10% and 0.31% of total votes cast in each state were cast without IDs. Thus, even under the extreme assumption that all voters without IDs were either fraudulent or would be disenfranchised by a strict law, the enactment of such a law would have only a very small effect on turnout. Similarly, we also show under a range of conservative assumptions that very few election results could have been flipped due to a strict law. Collectively, our findings indicate that even if the worst fears of proponents or critics were true, strict identification laws are unlikely to have a meaningful impact on turnout or election outcomes.
    JEL: J15 J16 K42
    Date: 2019–08
  13. By: Walid Merouani (Maître de recherche, Centre de Recherche en Economie appliquée pour le Développement (CREAD-Alger) and Centre de recherche en Economie et Management (CREM-CNRS))
    Abstract: In this study, we challenge the topic of vote turnout by exploring original surveys in three north African countries: Algeria, Libya and Tunisia. We test the impact of media consumption on individual intention to vote. The existing literature argues that media could stimulate political participation, however, the empirical evidence still scarce, especially in the aforementioned countries. The use of BBC Media Action surveys provides the opportunity to fill this research gap. Separately in each country we verify the role of media consumption in the intention to vote using logistic regressions. To make the results more robust, we add to our regressions a set of socio-demographic control variables. Our findings clearly show that media consumption increases the intention to vote. Furthermore, we confirm that age, education and location are significant predictors of the likelihood to vote in the studied societies. We believe these results have a practical meaning in term of policy making.
    Date: 2019–08–21
  14. By: M. Keith Chen; Kareem Haggag; Devin G. Pope; Ryne Rohla
    Abstract: Equal access to voting is a core feature of democratic government. Using data from millions of smartphone users, we quantify a racial disparity in voting wait times across a nationwide sample of polling places during the 2016 US presidential election. Relative to entirely-white neighborhoods, residents of entirely-black neighborhoods waited 29% longer to vote and were 74% more likely to spend more than 30 minutes at their polling place. This disparity holds when comparing predominantly white and black polling places within the same states and counties, and survives numerous robustness and placebo tests. Our results document large racial differences in voting wait times and demonstrates that geospatial data can be an effective tool to both measure and monitor these disparities.
    Date: 2019–08
  15. By: Herrera, Helios; Morelli, Massimo; Nunnari, Salvatore
    Abstract: This paper provides a theory of how war onset and war duration depend on the initial distribution of power when conflict triggers a reallocation of power but the loser is not eliminated. In the model, players take into account not only the expected consequences of war on the current distribution of resources, but also its expected consequences on the future distribution of military and political power. We highlight three main results: the key driver of war, in both the static and the dynamic game, is the mismatch between military and political power; dynamic incentives usually amplify static incentives, leading forward-looking players to be more aggressive; and a war is more likely to last for longer if political power is initially more unbalanced than military power and the politically under-represented player is militarily advantaged.
    Keywords: Balance of powers; War Duration
    Date: 2019–08
  16. By: Rodríguez-Pose, Andrés; Courty, Julie
    Abstract: In recent years regional representation offices have proliferated in Brussels. Among the many aims of these offices are influencing the allocation and securing the transfer of European Structural and Cohesion funds to their respective regions. However, our knowledge about whether they have succeeded in this goal is limited. In this paper we assess the extent to which regional offices in Brussels have managed to affect the territorial commitment and payment of Structural and Cohesion funds for regional development beyond the main officially stated economic criteria of eligibility. The paper uses a custom-made survey of regional offices in Brussels, complemented by economic, institutional, and political data involving factors that should determine how much money is channelled to and disbursed in each region. The results of the Fixed Effects and Instrumental Variable analyses for a total of 123 regions over the period 2009-2013 highlight that the capacity – proxied by the budget and staff of the office – of the regional representation offices to influence the commitment and payment of Structural and Cohesion funds has been negligible, when not outright negative. Regional lobbying in Brussels does not lead to more funds or to an easier disbursement of regional development funds.
    Keywords: regional representation; regional offices; lobbying; European regional development policy; structural funds; EU
    JEL: D72 R51 R58
    Date: 2018–02–28
  17. By: Steven Jacob Bosworth (University of Reading); Dennis J. Snower (Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel)
    Abstract: We develop a model of the social fragmentation along communitarian vs. individualistic values. The endogenous adoption of social values hinges on whether people choose to derive more utility from comparisons with others (materialistic but universalist values) or derive relatively more utility from membership of a group with its distinguishing characteristics (communitarian but exclusive values). Those more well-off, socioeconomically, gravitate towards individualism while those of lower status gravitate towards communitarianism. Crucially, those at the lower end of the middle classes are predicted to align more and more with communitarian values when the status advantage of those at the top increases, holding their own income constant (i.e. rising socioeconomic inequality). Conversely, those at the higher end of the middle classes are predicted to align more and more with individualist values, polarising society. These shifts also increase size of the political constituency for enacting protectionist policies, which act as a stabilising force against socioeconomic polarisation. The model therefore predicts political realignments from the incidence of income growth and the importance of status-oriented (conspicuous) consumption.
    Keywords: inequality, values, political fragmentation, nationalism
    JEL: A13 D63 F50 O00 Q43
    Date: 2019–08–27

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