nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2020‒02‒17
eleven papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. A Century of the American Woman Voter: Sex Gaps in Political Participation, Preferences, and Partisanship Since Women’s Enfranchisement By Elizabeth U. Cascio; Na’ama Shenhav
  2. Protest voting in the laboratory By Philippos Louis; Orestis Troumpounis; Nikolaos Tsakas; Dimitrios Xefteris
  3. Structural Reforms and Elections: Evidence from a World-Wide New Dataset By Alberto F. Alesina; Davide Furceri; Jonathan D. Ostry; Chris Papageorgiou; Dennis P. Quinn
  4. Did Changes in Economic Expectations Foreshadow Swings in the 2018 Elections? By Daphne Skandalis; Michael Neubauer; Wilbert Van der Klaauw; Olivier Armantier
  5. Narrow Incumbent Victories and Post-Election Conflict : Evidence from the Philippines By Crost,Benjamin; Felter,Joseph H.; Mansour,Hani; Rees,Daniel I.
  6. Up before Dawn : Experimental Evidence from a Cross-Border Trader Training at the Democratic Republic of Congo?Rwanda Border By Croke,Kevin; Garcia Mora,Maria Elena; Goldstein,Markus P.; Mensah,Edouard Romeo; O'Sullivan,Michael B.
  7. The Role of the Weighted Voting System in Investments in Local Public Education: Evidence from a New Historical Database By Lindgren, Erik; Pettersson-Lidbom, Per; Tyrefors, Björn
  8. Does Social Media Promote Democracy? Some Empirical Evidence By Chandan Kumar Jha; Oasis Kodila-Tedika
  9. Permit markets with political and market distortions By Alex Dickson; Ian A. MacKenzie
  10. Opposition Media, State Censorship, and Political Accountability:Evidence from Chavez’s Venezuela By Brian Knight; Anna Tribin
  11. Do Weak Institutions Prolong Crises ? On the Identification, Characteristics, and Duration of Declines During Economic Slumps By Bluhm,Richard; de Crombrugghe,Denis; Szirmai,Adam

  1. By: Elizabeth U. Cascio; Na’ama Shenhav
    Abstract: This year marks the centennial of the Nineteenth Amendment, which provided American women a constitutional guarantee to the franchise. We assemble data from a variety of sources to document and explore trends in women’s political participation, issue preferences, and partisanship since that time. We show that in the early years following enfranchisement, women voted at much lower rates than men and held distinct issue preferences, despite splitting their votes across parties similarly to men. But by the dawn of the 21st century, women not only voted more than men, but also voted differently, systematically favoring the Democratic party. We find that the rise in women’s relative voter turnout largely reflects cross-cohort changes in voter participation and coincided with increasing rates of high school completion. By contrast, women’s relative shift toward the Democratic party permeates all cohorts and appears to owe more to changes in how parties have defined themselves than to changes in issue preferences. The findings suggest that a confluence of factors have led to the unique place women currently occupy in the American electorate, one where they are arguably capable of exerting more political influence than ever before.
    JEL: I0 J16 N32
    Date: 2020–01
  2. By: Philippos Louis (Department of Economics, University of Cyprus); Orestis Troumpounis (DSEA, University of Padova and LUMS, University of Lancaster); Nikolaos Tsakas (Department of Economics, University of Cyprus); Dimitrios Xefteris (Department of Economics, University of Cyprus)
    Abstract: Formal analysis predicts that the likelihood of an electoral accident depends on the preference intensity for a successful protest, but not on the protest's popularity: an increase in protest's popularity is fully offset by a reduction in the individual probability of casting a protest vote. By conducting the first laboratory experiment on protest voting, we find strong evidence in favor of the first prediction and qualified support for the latter. While the offset effect is present, it is not as strong as the theory predicts: protest candidates gain both by fanaticising existing protesters and by expanding the protest's popular base.
    Keywords: protest voting, electoral accident, coordination, laboratory experiment
    JEL: D72
    Date: 2020–02
  3. By: Alberto F. Alesina; Davide Furceri; Jonathan D. Ostry; Chris Papageorgiou; Dennis P. Quinn
    Abstract: We assemble two unique databases. One is on reforms in domestic finance, external finance, trade, product markets and labor markets, which covers 90 advanced and developing economies from 1973 to 2014. The other is on electoral results and timing of elections. In the 66 democracies considered in the paper, we show that liberalizing reforms engender benefits for the economy, but they materialize only gradually over time. Partly because of this delayed effect, and possibly because voters are impatient or do not anticipate future benefits, liberalizing reforms are costly to incumbents when implemented close to elections. We also find that the electoral effects depend on the state of the economy at the time of reform: reforms are penalized during contractions; liberalizing reforms undertaken in expansions are often rewarded. Voters seem to attribute current economic conditions to the reforms without fully internalizing the delay that it takes for reforms to bear fruit.
    JEL: D72 J65 L43 L51 O43 O47 P16
    Date: 2020–01
  4. By: Daphne Skandalis (Research and Statistics Group); Michael Neubauer (Research and Statistics Group); Wilbert Van der Klaauw; Olivier Armantier (Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.); Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia; Federal Reserve Bank of New York)
    Abstract: In the months leading up to the 2018 midterm elections, were economic expectations in congressional districts about to elect a Republican similar to those in districts about to elect a Democrat? How did economic expectations evolve in districts where the party holding the House seat would switch? After examining the persistence of polarization in expectations using voting patterns from the presidential election in our previous post, we explore here how divergence in expectations may have foreshadowed the results of the midterm elections. Using the Survey of Consumer Expectations, we show that economic expectations deteriorated between 2016 and 2018 in districts that switched from Republican to Democratic control compared to districts that remained Republican.
    Keywords: Economic Expectations; Midterm Elections
    JEL: D7 D8
  5. By: Crost,Benjamin; Felter,Joseph H.; Mansour,Hani; Rees,Daniel I.
    Abstract: Post-election violence is a common form of conflict, but its underlying mechanisms are not well understood. Using data from the 2007 Philippine mayoral elections, this paper provides evidence that post-election violence is particularly intense after narrow victories by incumbents. Using a density test, the study shows that incumbents were substantially more likely to win narrow victories than their challengers, a pattern consistent with electoral manipulation. There is no evidence that the increase in post-election violence is related to the incumbent's political platform or their performance in past elections. These results provide support for the notion that post-election violence is triggered by election fraud or by the failure of democratic ways of removing unpopular incumbents from office.
    Date: 2020–01–29
  6. By: Croke,Kevin; Garcia Mora,Maria Elena; Goldstein,Markus P.; Mensah,Edouard Romeo; O'Sullivan,Michael B.
    Abstract: Small-scale cross-border trade provides opportunities for economic gains in many developing countries. Yet cross-border traders -- many of whom are women -- face harassment and corruption, which can undermine these potential gains. This paper presents evidence from a randomized controlled trial of a training intervention that provided access to information on procedures, tariffs, and rights to small-scale traders to facilitate border crossings, lower corruption, and reduce gender-based violence along the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)?Rwanda border. The training reduces bribe payment by 5 percentage points in the full sample and by 27.5 percentage points on average among compliers. The training also reduces the incidence of gender-based violence by 5.4 percentage points (30.5 percentage points among compliers). The paper assesses competing explanations for the impacts using a game-theoretic model based on Hirschman's Exit, Voice, and Loyalty framework. The effects are achieved through early border crossings at unofficial hours (exit) instead of traders'use of voice mechanisms or reduced rent-seeking from border officials. These results highlight the need to improve governance and establish clear cross-border trade regulations, particularly on the DRC side of the border.
    Date: 2020–01–27
  7. By: Lindgren, Erik (Department of Economics, Stockholm University); Pettersson-Lidbom, Per (Department of Economics, Stockholm University); Tyrefors, Björn (Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN))
    Abstract: In this paper, we analyze how a weighted voting system introduced in 1862, which shifted the distribution of political power from landowners to industrialists at local town meetings, affected investments in local public education. We use an event study design based on a newly constructed panel data set with annual observations of nearly 2,200 Swedish local governments over 28 years, i.e., more than 60,000 observations. Most importantly, there is no pre-trend in educational spending in our event study but rather a sharp change in the dynamic treatment effects exactly at the date when the treatment occurs, i.e., when industrialists receive more political power at town meetings. The estimated cumulative treatment effect is also economically substantial. For example, per capita spending on education increased by approximately 37% within 6 years in local governments where industrialists came to political power. Our findings are therefore consistent with the idea that political institutions are a key determinant of human capital accumulation and long-run economic development.
    Keywords: Political Institutions; Education; Human Capital; Development
    JEL: H75 I25 N34 O15 O43
    Date: 2020–01–27
  8. By: Chandan Kumar Jha (New York, USA); Oasis Kodila-Tedika (Kinshasa, The Democratic Republic of Congo)
    Abstract: This study explores the relationship between social media and democracy in a cross- section of over 125 countries around the world. We find the evidence of a strong, positive correlation between Facebook penetration (a proxy for social media) and democracy. We further show that the correlation between social media and democracy is stronger for low-income countries than high-income countries. Our lowest point estimates indicate that a one-standard deviation (about 18 percentage point) increase in Facebook penetration is associated with about 8-point (on a scale of 0–100) increase for the world sample and over 11 points improvement for low-income countries.
    Keywords: Democracy; Information; Facebook; Internet; Social Media
    JEL: D72 D83 O1
    Date: 2019–01
  9. By: Alex Dickson (Department of Economics, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK, G4 0QU.); Ian A. MacKenzie (School of Economics, University of Queensland;
    Abstract: This article investigates the cost effectiveness of cap-and-trade markets in the presence of both political and market distortions. We create a model where dominant firms have the ability to rent seek for a share of pollution permits as well as influence the market equilibrium with their choice of permit exchange because of market power. We derive the subgame-perfect equilibrium and show the interaction of these two distortions has consequences for the resulting allocative efficiency of the market. We find that if the dominant rent-seeking firms are all permit buyers (or a composition of buyers and sellers) then allocative efficiency is improved relative to the case without rent seeking; by contrast, if the dominant rent-seeking firms are all permit sellers then allocative efficiency reduces.
    Keywords: Pollution market, Market power, rent seeking.
    JEL: D43 D72 Q58
    Date: 2020–01–21
  10. By: Brian Knight; Anna Tribin
    Abstract: This paper investigates the effects of state censorship of opposition media using evidence from the closing of RCTV, a popular opposition television channel in Venezuela. The government did not renew RCTV’s license, and the channel was replaced overnight, during May 2007, by a pro-government channel. Based upon this censorship of opposition television, we have three key findings. First, using Nielsen ratings data, viewership fell, following the closing of RCTV, on the pro-government replacement, but rose on Globovision, the only remaining television channel for opposition viewers. This finding is consistent with a model in which viewers have a preference for opposition television and substitute accordingly. Second, exploiting the geographic location of the Globovision broadcast towers, Chavez approval ratings fell following the closing of RCTV in places with access to the Globovision signal, relative to places without access. Third, in places with access to the Globovision signal, relative to places without, support for Chavez in electoral data also fell following the closing of RCTV. Counterfactuals, which account for both substitution patterns in media consumption and the persuasive effects of opposition television, document that switching to uncensored outlets led to an economically significant reduction in support for Chavez.
    Date: 2020
  11. By: Bluhm,Richard; de Crombrugghe,Denis; Szirmai,Adam
    Abstract: This paper studies periods of prolonged contractions in output per capita in a sample of 145 countries from 1950 to 2014. Economic slumps are defined as abrupt interruptions of a period of growth by several regime switches. Slumps start with a sharp contraction along with a trend break, which is followed by another switch when growth stabilizes again. The paper then analyzes the correlates of these slumps, focusing on the length and depth of the contraction, from the beginning of the slump to its trough. The results establish three new stylized facts: (i) weak political institutions predate crises whereas political reforms tend to follow them, (ii) the length and depth of economic declines are robustly correlated with executive constraints and ethnic heterogeneity, and (iii) there is a robust interaction between these two variables, suggesting that institutions constraining leaders are important for stabilizing growth. This is particularly relevant for Sub-Saharan Africa, where politics are often ethnic and decision makers are comparatively unconstrained.
    Date: 2020–01–29

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