nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2020‒05‒25
eight papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. Does Immigration Decrease Far-Right Popularity? Evidence from Finnish Municipalities By Lonsky, Jakub
  2. World War I and the Rise of Fascism in Italy By Gianluca Russo
  3. Electoral systems and female representation in politics: Evidence from a regression discontinuity By Kantorowicz, Jarosław; Köppl-Turyna, Monika
  4. Economic and cultural determinants of elite attitudes toward redistribution By Lopez, Matias; Moraes Silva, Graziella; Teeger, Chana; Marques, Pedro
  5. Palm oil and the politics of deforestation in Indonesia By Cisneros Tersitsch, Marco Elías; Kis-Katos, Krisztina; Nuryartono, Nunung
  6. Exploring Weak Strategy-Proofness in Voting Theory By Anne Carlstein
  7. Merchants of doubt: Corporate political action when NGO credibility is uncertain By Mireille Chiroleu-Assouline; Thomas Lyon
  8. No Country for Young People? The Rise of Anti-immigration Populism in Ageing Societies By Dotti, Valerio

  1. By: Lonsky, Jakub
    Abstract: Across Europe, far-right parties have made significant electoral gains in recent years. Their anti-immigration stance is considered one of the main factors behind their success. Using data from Finland, this paper studies the effect of immigration on voting for the far-right Finns Party on a local level. Exploiting a convenient setup for a shift-share instrument, I find that one percentage point increase in the share of foreign citizens in municipality decreases Finns Party's vote share by 3.4 percentage points. Placebo tests using pre-period data confirm this effect is not driven by persistent trends at the municipality level. The far-right votes lost to immigration are captured by the two pro-immigration parties. Turning to potential mechanisms, immigration is found to increase voter turnout, potentially activating local pro-immigration voters. Moreover, the negative effect is only present in municipalities with high initial exposure to immigrants, consistent with the intergroup contact theory. Finally, I also provide some evidence for welfarestate channel as a plausible mechanism behind the main result.
    Keywords: Immigration,far-right,political economy,voting
    JEL: H71 J15 J61 P16
    Date: 2020
  2. By: Gianluca Russo (Boston University)
    Abstract: One of the key steps that allowed Mussolini to become the Italian Duce was the victory in the 1924 national elections. I study the impact of World War I on Mussolini’s electoral success. I reconstruct the military death rate for the universe of Italian municipalities, which is matched to municipal level voting in the 1924 election. After controlling for the number of individuals drafted in a municipality, the variation in the share of fatalities is caused by military events exogenous to municipality characteristics that could simultaneously affect support for Fascism. I find that a higher share of fatalities increases the vote share for Fascism. In particular, the vote share for Fascism is higher in municipalities with both higher fatality rates and a greater number of veterans returning from the frontline. I show that the effect of WWI deaths is driven by municipalities that in 1921 had above median vote shares for the Socialist party. This is consistent with the historical narrative that the initial rise of Mussolini was facilitated by the red menace: the threat of a Socialist revolution in Italy.
    Keywords: Political Economy, Fascism, War Fatalities
    JEL: D72 P16 N44
    Date: 2018–07
  3. By: Kantorowicz, Jarosław; Köppl-Turyna, Monika
    Abstract: This work looks at the policies aimed at promoting female participation in local legislative bodies using a series of changes to electoral law in Poland. Using an exogenous population threshold dividing municipalities into ones with proportional and ones with majoritarian elections, we estimate the effect of the electoral system on female representation. Moreover, we use difference-in-discontinuities to look at the effect of an introduction of a female quota on female participation in local councils. Contrary to the literature for the national elections, we find that more females are elected to local councils in the majoritarian system. We link this observation to countering party bias in list placements and lower costs of electoral participation in the majoritarian system. We find that the female quota has a strong positive effect on the percentage of females in the local council. It increases the pool of female candidates and has a positive effect on their list placements. It does not, however, create spillovers to neighboring regions.
    Keywords: electoral rules,forms of government,female representation,regression discontinuity,difference in discontinuities
    JEL: D72 B52
    Date: 2020
  4. By: Lopez, Matias; Moraes Silva, Graziella; Teeger, Chana; Marques, Pedro
    Abstract: Previous studies have posited that elites are willing to advance the redistribution of income and social goods when the negative effects of inequality, such as crime and conflict, threaten their own interests. Although elites acknowledge these negative effects, their support for redistributive policies remains low throughout the Global South. We address this paradox using a multi-method research design. Drawing on 56 in-depth interviews with Brazilian political and economic elites, we document how, when discussing the negative effects of inequality, interviewees consistently characterized the poor as ignorant, irrational and politically incompetent. We use these findings to theorize about the negative impact of such perceptions of the poor on elite support for redistribution. We then test this relationship using survey data gathered from random samples of political and economic elites in Brazil, South Africa and Uruguay (N 1⁄4 544). We find the relationship to be robust.
    Keywords: elites; inequality; perceptions; social policy; redistribution
    JEL: D70 D62
    Date: 2020–05–01
  5. By: Cisneros Tersitsch, Marco Elías; Kis-Katos, Krisztina; Nuryartono, Nunung
    Abstract: This paper studies the interactions between political and economic incentives to foster forest conversion in Indonesian districts. Using a district-level panel data set from 2001 to 2016, we analyze variation in remotely sensed forest loss and forest fires as well as measures of land use licensing. We link these outcomes to economic incentives to expand oil palm cultivation areas as well as political incentives arising before idiosyncratically-timed local mayoral elections. Empirical results document substantial increases in deforestation and forest fires in the year prior to local elections. Additionally, oil palm plays a crucial role in driving deforestation dynamics. Variations in global market prices of palm oil are closely linked to deforestation in areas which are geo-climatically best suited for growing oil palm and they amplify the importance of the political cycle. We thus find clear evidence for economic and political incentives reinforcing each other as drivers of forest loss and land conversion for oil palm cultivation.
    Keywords: democratization,decentralization,elections,deforestation,forest conservation,demand shocks,palm oil,concessions,Indonesia,Price Transmission Analysis,VECM,Tripartite Rubber Council,Indonesia,Thailand,Malaysia,Policy Interventions
    Date: 2020
  6. By: Anne Carlstein (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
    Abstract: Voting is the aggregation of individual preferences in order to select a winning alternative. Selection of a winner is accomplished via a voting rule, e.g., rank-order voting, majority rule, plurality rule, approval voting. Which voting rule should be used? In social choice theory, desirable properties of voting rules are expressed as axioms to be satisfied. This thesis focuses on axioms concerning strategic manipulation by voters. Sometimes, voters may intentionally misstate their true preferences in order to alter the outcome for their own advantage. For example, in plurality rule, if a voter knows that their top-choice candidate will lose, then they might instead vote for their second-choice candidate just to avoid an even less desirable result. When no coalition of voters can strategically manipulate, then the voting rule is said to satisfy the axiom of Strategy-Proofness. A less restrictive axiom is Weak Strategy-Proofness (as defined by Dasgupta and Maskin (2019)), which allows for strategic manipulation by all but the smallest coalitions. Under certain intuitive conditions, Dasgupta and Maskin (2019) proved that the only voting rules satisfying Strategy-Proofness are rank-order voting and majority rule. In my thesis, I generalize their result, by proving that rank-order voting and majority rule are surprisingly still the only voting rules satisfying Weak Strategy-Proofness.
    Date: 2020–05
  7. 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
  8. By: Dotti, Valerio
    Abstract: Abstract We investigate the effects of (i) population ageing and (ii) rising income inequality on immigration policies using an overlapping-generations model of elections with endogenous political parties. In each period, young people work and pay taxes while old people receive social security payments. Immigrants are generally young, meaning they contribute significantly to financing the cost of public services and social security. Among natives, the elderly and the poor benefit the most from public spending. However, because these two types of voters do not fully internalize the positive fiscal effects of immigration, they have a common interest in coalescing around a populist party (or multiple) seeking to curb immigration and increase the tax burden on high-income individuals. Population ageing and rising income inequality increase the size and, in turn, the political power of such parties, resulting in more restrictive immigration policies, a larger public sector, higher tax rates, and lower societal well-being. Calibrating the model to UK data suggests that the magnitude of these effects is large. The implications of this model are shown to be consistent with patterns observed in UK attitudinal data.
    Keywords: Immigration, Ageing, Policy, Voting.
    JEL: C71 D72 H55 J61
    Date: 2020–04–14

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