nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2019‒12‒16
seven papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. Elections, Economic Outcomes and Policy in Canada: 1870 - 2015 By J. Stephen Ferris; Marcel-Christian Voia
  2. Compulsory Voting and Political Participation: Empirical Evidence from Austria By Stefanie Gäbler; Niklas Potrafke; Felix Rösel
  3. We Were The Robots: Automation and Voting Behavior in Western Europe By Massimo Anelli; Italo Colantone; Piero Stanig
  4. An exploratory study of populism: the municipality-level predictors of electoral outcomes in Italy By Levi, Eugenio; Patriarca, Fabrizio
  5. Salience and Accountability: School Infrastructureand Last-Minute Electoral Punishment By Nicolas Ajzenman; Ruben Durante
  6. Economic Insecurity and the Rise of the Right By Walter Bossert; Andrew E. Clark; Conchita d'Ambrosio; Anthony Lepinteur
  7. Racial Disparities in Voting Wait Times: Evidence from Smartphone Data By M. Keith Chen; Kareem Haggag; Devin G. Pope; Ryne Rohla

  1. By: J. Stephen Ferris (Department of Economics, Carleton University); Marcel-Christian Voia (Laboratoire d'Économie d'Orléans (LEO) Faculté de droit, d'économie et de gestion Université d'Orléans)
    Abstract: In this paper we examine the relationship between economic and electoral outcomes in Canada since Confederation (1867) and the role that economic policy has played in influencing this relationship. The results are consistent with voter concern for the overall performance of the economy in the incumbent’s governing term—the average growth rate of per capita GDP and average unemployment rate—while rejecting the presence of a political business/budget cycle response in the period leading into an upcoming election. Evidence for the effect of performance on the stability of the political party system (as measured by party vote volatility) is even stronger. The data also are consistent with the use of policy for countercyclical stability (primarily through spending and deficits), fiscal response to voter turnout, the growth of both spending and deficits under larger governing majoritiesand compliant monetary response to fiscal deficits.
    Keywords: economic and electoral outcomes, political business cycle, political influences on policy,policy endogeneity, seemingly unrelated regressions
    JEL: Z18 H30 E60
    Date: 2019–12–06
  2. By: Stefanie Gäbler; Niklas Potrafke; Felix Rösel
    Abstract: We examine whether compulsory voting influences political participation as measured by voter turnout, invalid voting, political interest, confidence in parliament, and party membership. In Austria, some states temporarily introduced compulsory voting in national elections. We investigate border municipalities across two states which differ in compulsory voting legislation using a difference-in-differences approach. The results show that compulsory voting increased voter turnout by 3.5 percentage points but we do not find long-run effects. Once compulsory voting was abolished, voter turnout returned to pre-compulsory voting levels. Microdata evidence suggests that compulsory voting tends to crowd out intrinsic motivation for political participation which may explain why compulsory voting is not found to be habit-forming.
    Keywords: Compulsory voting, election, voter turnout, Austria
    Date: 2019
  3. By: Massimo Anelli (Bocconi University); Italo Colantone (Bocconi University); Piero Stanig (Bocconi University)
    Abstract: We investigate the impact of robot adoption on electoral outcomes in 14 Western European countries, between 1993 and 2016. We employ both official election results at the district level and individual-level voting data, combined with party ideology scores from the Manifesto Project. We measure exposure to automation both at the regional level, based on the ex-ante industry specialization of each region, and at the individual level, based on individual characteristics and pre-sample employment patterns in the region of residence. We instrument robot adoption in each country using the pace of robot adoption in other countries. Higher exposure to robot adoption is found to increase support for nationalist and radicalright parties. Unveiling some potential transmission channels, higher robot exposure at the individual level leads to poorer perceived economic conditions andwell-being, lower satisfaction with the government and democracy, and a reduction in perceived political self-efficacy.
    Keywords: Automation, Nationalism, Radical Right
    Date: 2019–10
  4. By: Levi, Eugenio; Patriarca, Fabrizio
    Abstract: We present an exploratory machine learning analysis of populist votes at municipality level in the 2018 Italian general elections, in which populist parties gained almost 50% of the votes. Starting from a comprehensive set of local characteristics, we use an algorithm based on BIC to obtain a reduced set of predictors for each of the two populist parties (Five-Star Movement and Lega) and the two traditional ones (Democratic Party and Forza Italia). Differences and similarities between the sets of predictors further provide evidence on 1) heterogeneity in populisms, 2) if this heterogeneity is related to the traditional left/right divide. The Five-Star Movement is stronger in larger and unsafer municipalities, where people are younger, more unemployed and work more in services. On the contrary, Lega thrives in smaller and safer municipalities, where people are less educated and employed more in manufacturing and commerce. These differences do not correspond to differences between the Democratic Party and Forza Italia, providing evidence that heterogeneity in populisms does not correspond to a left/right divide. As robustness tests, we use an alternative machine learning technique (lasso) and apply our predictions to France as to confront them with candidates' actual votes in 2017 presidential elections.
    Keywords: Voting,Populism,Economic insecurity,Political Economy
    JEL: D72 F52 G01 J15 O33 Z13
    Date: 2019
  5. By: Nicolas Ajzenman; Ruben Durante
    Abstract: Can seemingly unimportant factors influence voting decisions by making certain issuessalient? We study this question in the context of Argentina 2015 presidential electionsby examining how the quality of the infrastructure of the school where citizens wereassigned to vote influenced their voting choice. Exploiting the quasi-random assignmentof voters to ballot stations located in different public schools in the city of BuenosAires, we find that individuals assigned to schools with poorer infrastructure weresignificantly less likely to vote for Mauricio Macri, the incumbent mayor then runningfor president. The effect is larger in low-income areas - where fewer people can affordprivate substitutes to public education - and in places where more households have children in school age. The effect is unlikely to be driven by information scarcity,since information on public school infrastructure was readily available to parents beforeelections. Rather, direct exposure to poor school infrastructure at the time of votingis likely to make public education - and the poor performance of the incumbent - moresalient.
    Keywords: Elections, Salience, Electoral Punishment, Public Infrastructure, Education
    JEL: D72 D83 I25 D90
    Date: 2019–09
  6. By: Walter Bossert (CIREQ - Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, University of Montreal - University of Montreal); Andrew E. Clark (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); Conchita d'Ambrosio (INSIDE - INtegrative research unit on Social and Individual DEvelopment - University of Luxembourg [Luxembourg]); Anthony Lepinteur (INSIDE - INtegrative research unit on Social and Individual DEvelopment - University of Luxembourg [Luxembourg])
    Abstract: Economic insecurity has attracted growing attention in social, academic and policy cir- cles. However, there is no consensus as to its precise de_nition. Intuitively, economic insecurity is multi-faceted, making any comprehensive formal de_nition that subsumes all possible aspects extremely challenging. We propose a simpli_ed approach, and character- ize a class of individual economic-insecurity measures that are based on the time pro_le of economic resources. We then apply our economic-insecurity measure to data on political preferences. In US, UK and German panel data, and conditional on current economic resources, economic insecurity is associated with both greater political participation (sup- port for a party or the intention to vote) and notably more support for parties on the right of the political spectrum. We in particular _nd that economic insecurity predicts greater support for both Donald Trump before the 2016 US Presidential election and the UK leaving the European Union in the 2016 Brexit referendum.
    Keywords: Economic index numbers,Insecurity,Political participation,Conservatism,Right-leaning political parties,Trump,Brexit
    Date: 2019–10
  7. 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 U.S. 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. We shed light on the mechanism for these results and discuss how geospatial data can be an effective tool to both measure and monitor these disparities going forward.
    JEL: D72
    Date: 2019–11

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