nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2020‒05‒11
eight papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. Politics in the Facebook Era - Evidence from the 2016 US Presidential Elections By Federica Liberini; Michela Redoano; Antonio Russo; Ángel Cuevas; Rubén Cuevas
  2. Persuading Strategic Voters By Kerman, Toygar; Herings, P. Jean-Jacques; Karos, Dominik
  3. Technological Progress and Political Disengagement By Daryna Grechyna
  4. The Political Competition over Life and Death - Evidence from Infant Mortality in India By Anders Kjelsrud; Kalle Moene; Lore Vandewalle
  5. The Politics of Platform Capitalism. A Case Study on the Regulation of Uber in New York By Seidl, Timo
  6. Merchants of doubt: Corporate political action when NGO credibility is uncertain By Mireille Chiroleu-Assouline; Thomas Lyon
  7. Government ideology and international migration By Vincenzo Bove; Georgios Efthyvoulou; Harry Pickard
  8. Globalization for Sale By Michael Blanga-Gubbay; Paola Conconi; Mathieu Parenti

  1. By: Federica Liberini; Michela Redoano; Antonio Russo; Ángel Cuevas; Rubén Cuevas
    Abstract: Through social media, politicians can personalize their campaigns and target specific groups of voters with an unprecedented precision. We assess the effects of such political micro-targeting by exploiting daily advertising prices on Facebook during the 2016 US presidential campaign. We measure the intensity of online campaigns using variation in ad prices charged to reach certain audiences, defined by political orientation, location, and demographic characteristics. We address two fundamental questions: How intensively did social media political campaigns target each audience? How large were any effects on voters? We find that micro-targeted political ads on social media had significant effects when based on geographical location, ideology, ethnicity, and gender. Exposure to these ads made individuals less likely to change their initial voting intentions, particularly among those who had expressed an intention to vote for Donald Trump. We also find that micro-targeted ads reduced turnout among targeted liberals, whereas they increased turnout and support for Trump among targeted moderates.
    Keywords: social media, political micro-targeting, elections, advertising, populism, polarization
    JEL: D72 M37 D91
    Date: 2020
  2. By: Kerman, Toygar (RS: GSBE other - not theme-related research, General Economics 1 (Micro)); Herings, P. Jean-Jacques (RS: GSBE Theme Data-Driven Decision-Making, RS: GSBE Theme Conflict & Cooperation, General Economics 1 (Micro)); Karos, Dominik (RS: GSBE Theme Conflict & Cooperation, General Economics 1 (Micro))
    Abstract: A Sender wants to persuade multiple Receivers with homogeneous preferences and a common belief about the state of the world to vote in favor of a proposal. Prior to the vote Sender commits to a communication strategy which sends private, potentially correlated, signals to Receivers that are contingent on the true state of the world. While Sender benefits from using private messages rather than public communication if Receivers vote sincerely, under the optimal communication strategy, sincere voting is not in any Receiver’s best interest. If the proposal does not require unanimous agreement, Sender’s optimal communication strategy after which sincere voting indeed constitutes a Bayes-Nash equilibrium is such that no voter is ever pivotal.
    JEL: C72 D72 D82 D83
    Date: 2020–02–20
  3. By: Daryna Grechyna (Department of Economic Theory and Economic History, University of Granada.)
    Abstract: This paper postulates the existence of a negative relationship between technological progress and citizens’ political engagement in developed economies. Theoretically, technological progress decreases the citizen relative utility from political participation. Empirically, the data covering a large sample of individuals in European regions and a sample of individuals from British regions suggests that regional technological progress reduces the probability that an individual supports any political party, controlling for a wide range of individual and regional characteristics. These findings are consistent with decreasing voter turnout and a rise in political populism observed in many institutionalized democracies.
    Keywords: technological progress, political interests, political disenfranchisement, voter turnout, survey data.
    JEL: D72 O33 H40
    Date: 2020–04–22
  4. By: Anders Kjelsrud (University of Oslo, Norway); Kalle Moene (University of Oslo, Norway); Lore Vandewalle (IHEID, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva)
    Abstract: We argue that economic inequality harms social provisions for the poor, but that higher political competition can mitigate this effect. We test this hypothesis using a large redistricting of electoral boundaries in India and find that higher inequality causes more post-neonatal infant deaths, but only when there is weak political competition. We further show that government health centers located in constituencies with low political competition and high inequality are disfavored, indicating that the e ect on mortality operates via changes in public provision. Finally, we show that the same mechanisms are at play in the implementation of the MGNREGA employment program.
    Keywords: Health, infant mortality, income inequality, political competition
    JEL: O15 D72 P46
    Date: 2020–04–24
  5. By: Seidl, Timo
    Abstract: In recent years, platform companies like Uber have caused much controversy. By disrupting markets and contesting regulatory regimes, they have come to epitomize both the promises and perils of platform capitalism. However, little attention has been paid to the politics of platform capitalism itself, that is, to the political processes in which platform are – or aren’t – regulated. This paper starts filling this gap by developing, testing, and defending a framework based on three conceptual pillars: coalitions, narratives and platform power. Using discourse network analysis and a case study on the regulation of Uber in New York, it shows that the success or failure of regulations depends on the ability of actors to mobilize broad coalition; that narratives affect the composition of these coalitions; and that platform companies have both unique political strengths and vulnerabilities. The paper contributes to the literatures on coalitional politics, ideational institutionalism, business power, and the politics of digital capitalism.
    Date: 2020–04–22
  6. By: Mireille Chiroleu-Assouline (PJSE - Paris Jourdan Sciences Economiques - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement, PSE - Paris School of Economics); Thomas Lyon (University of Michigan [Ann Arbor] - University of Michigan System)
    Abstract: The literature on special interest groups emphasizes two main influence channels: campaign contributions and informational lobbying. We introduce a third channel: providing information about the credibility of political rivals. In particular, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) often aim to communicate scientific knowledge to policymakers, but industry‐backed groups often attempt to undermine their credibility. We extend a standard signaling model of interest‐group lobbying to include fixed costs of policymaker action and show that these costs make possible two mechanisms for creating doubt about the value of policy action. The first uses Bayesian persuasion to suggest the NGO may be a noncredible radical. The second involves creating an opposition think tank (TT) that acts as a possible radical, not a credible moderate. We show that the TT cannot always implement the Bayesian persuasion benchmark, and we characterize how optimal TT design varies with exogenous parameters.
    Keywords: Informational lobbying,persuasion,nonmarket strategy,special interest politics
    Date: 2020
  7. By: Vincenzo Bove (Department of Politics and International Studies and CAGE (Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy), University of Warwick,); Georgios Efthyvoulou (Department of Economics, University of Sheffield, UK); Harry Pickard (Department of Economics, University of Sheffield, UK)
    Abstract: We provide the first empirical evidence that differences in government ideology play an important role in the choice of cross-border migration destinations. In absence of first-hand experience, immigrants rely on information about the political landscape of the origin and host countries to form expectations about the context of reception in the host society. We use data on bilateral migration and government ideology for 36 OECD countries between 1990 and 2016. Our analysis shows that bilateral migration flows are higher when the government at the destination is more left-wing than the government at the origin, especially when we consider proximate countries.
    Keywords: international migration; migration choice; government ideology; OECD countries
    JEL: J15 D72 F22
    Date: 2020–05
  8. By: Michael Blanga-Gubbay; Paola Conconi; Mathieu Parenti
    Abstract: We study the role of firms in the political economy of trade agreements. Using detailed information from lobbying reports filed under the Lobbying Disclosure Act, we find that virtually all firms that lobby on free trade agreements (FTAs) support their ratification. Moreover, relative to non-lobbying firms, lobbying firms are larger, and more likely to be engaged in international trade and to operate in comparative advantage sectors. To rationalize these findings, we develop a model in which heterogeneous firms decide whether to lobby and how much to spend in favor or against a proposed FTA. We show that the distributional effects are asymmetric: the winners from the FTA have higher stakes in the agreement than the losers, which explains why only pro-FTA firms select into lobbying. The model also delivers predictions on the intensive margin of lobbying. In line with these predictions, we find that firms spend more supporting agreements that generate larger potential gains - in terms of the extent of the reduction of tariffs on their final goods and intermediate inputs, the depth of the agreement, and the export and sourcing potential of the FTA partners - and when politicians are less likely to be in favor of ratification.
    Keywords: trade agreements, endogeneous lobbying, heterogeneous firms
    JEL: F13 F53 F61
    Date: 2020

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