nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2020‒08‒17
28 papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. An Economic Analysis of Political Meritocracy By Chu, Angus C.; Kou, Zonglai; Wang, Xilin
  2. Electoral Administration in Fledgling Democracies:Experimental Evidence from Kenya By J. Andrew Harris; Catherine Kamindo; Peter van der Windt
  3. The Institutional Foundations of Religious Politics: Evidence from Indonesia By Samuel Bazzi; Gabriel Koehler-Derrick; Benjamin Marx
  4. Primaries, Strategic Voters and Heterogeneous Valences By Diego Carrasco Novoa; Shino Takayamaz; Yuki Tamura; Terence Yeo
  5. A Clustering Approach for Characterizing Voter Types: An Application to High-Dimensional Ballot and Survey Data By Kuriwaki, Shiro
  6. Synchronized Elections,Voter Behavior and Governance Outcomes : Evidence from India By Balasubramaniam, Vimal; Bhatiya, Apurav Yash; Das, Sabyasachi
  7. Stop invasion! The electoral tipping point in anti-immigrant voting By Massimo Bordignon; Matteo Gamalerio; Edoardo Slerca; Gilberto Turati
  8. Media, Secret Ballot and Democratization in the US By Leopoldo Fergusson; Juan Felipe Riaño; B.K. Song
  9. Measuring Elite Quality By Casas i Klett, Tomas; Cozzi, Guido; Diebold, Celine; Zeller, Camille
  10. Political connections and the super-rich in Poland By Katarzyna Salach; Michal Brzezinski
  11. Do Interactions with Candidates Increase Voter Support and Participation? Experimental Evidence from Italy By Enrico Cantoni; Vincent Pons
  12. Pacem in Terris: Are Papal Visits Good News for Human Rights? By Endrich, Marek; Gutmann, Jerg
  13. Political Connections and Financial Constraints: Evidence from Central and Eastern Europe By Bussolo, Maurizio; De Nicola, Francesca; Panizza, Ugo; Varghese, Richard
  14. Political Power, Elite Control, and Long-Run Development: Evidence from Brazil By Claudio Ferraz; Frederico Finan; Monica Martinez-Bravo
  15. A Leadership Curse? Oil Price Shocks and the Selection of National Leaders By Kodjovi M. Eklou
  16. The political economy of public research, or why some governments commit to research more than others By Filippetti, Andrea; Vezzani, Antonio
  17. "The political economy of protection in GVCs: Evidence from Chinese micro data" By Ludema, Rodney D; Mayda, Anna Maria; Yu, Miaojie; Yu, Zhi
  18. The Interplay of Economic, Social and Political Fragmentation By Snower, Dennis J.
  19. Fiscal Discipline and Exchange Rates: Does Politics Matter? By Joao Tovar Jalles; Carlos Mulas-Granados; José Tavares
  20. Does the internet change attitudes towards immigrants? Evidence from Spain By Alessio Romarri
  21. Betrayed by the elites: how corruption amplifies the political effects of recessions By Carlos Sanz; Albert Solé-Ollé; Pilar Sorribas-Navarro
  22. Confidence in public institutions and the run up to the October 2019 uprising in Lebanon By Ali Fakih; Paul Makdissi; Walid Marrouch; Rami V. Tabri; Myra Yazbeck
  23. What Do Voters Learn from Foreign News? Emulation, Backlash, and Public Support for Trade Agreements By Chun-Fang Chiang; Jason M. Kuo; Megumi Naoi; Jin-Tan Liu
  24. Polarization, Antipathy, and Political Activism By Zhang, Hanzhe; Wu, Jiabin
  25. Strategic Interdependence in Political Movements and Countermovements By Hager, Anselm; Hensel, Lukas; Hermle, Johannes; Roth, Christopher
  26. Elite Political Cues and Attitude Formation in Post-Conflict Contexts By Natalia Garbiras-Díaz; Miguel García-Sánchez; Aila Matanock
  27. Brexit: Dynamic Voting with an Irreversible Option By Moldovanu, Benny; Rosar, Frank
  28. Estimating the effect of Democracy, Governance and Militarisation on Peace in Africa By Chimere O. Iheonu; Kingsley O. Odo; Davidmac O. Ekeocha

  1. By: Chu, Angus C.; Kou, Zonglai; Wang, Xilin
    Abstract: The political system in China is often referred to as political meritocracy. This study develops a simple model of political economy to explore the strengths and weaknesses of a meritocratic system (in which political meritocrats design economic policies) relative to a democratic system (dominated by the median voter). We find that political meritocrats would choose economic policies that are more conducive to economic activities and lead to higher income but less public goods. Whether the meritocratic or democratic equilibrium achieves a higher level of social welfare depends on the distribution of individuals' abilities. If the ability of the median voter is lower than the mean of the population, then the meritocratic equilibrium may achieve a higher level of social welfare than the democratic equilibrium. In this case, there is a threshold degree of political inclusiveness in the meritocratic system above which political meritocracy dominates democracy in terms of social welfare, and this threshold degree of political inclusiveness is increasing in the ability of the median voter.
    Keywords: political meritocracy; democracy; median voter; utilitarianism
    JEL: D72 P16 P26
    Date: 2020–07
  2. By: J. Andrew Harris; Catherine Kamindo; Peter van der Windt (Division of Social Science)
    Abstract: We examine the effects of national voter registration policies on voting patterns with a large-scale experimental study. Together with Kenya’s electoral commission, we designed an experiment in which 1,674 communities were randomized to a status quo or treatment group, receiving civic education on voter registration, SMS reminders about registration opportunities, and/or local registration visits by election commission staff. We find little evidence that civic education improves registration. Local registration visits improve voter registration, a relationship that increases in poorer communities. Moreover, local registration increased electoral competition and vote preference diversity in down-ballot contests in the 2017 Kenyan elections. Our results suggest that status quo voter registration policies constrain political participation and competition, and that inexpensive policy changes may attenuate the effects of such constraints.
    Date: 2020–01
  3. By: Samuel Bazzi (Boston University); Gabriel Koehler-Derrick (Harvard University); Benjamin Marx (Département d'économie)
    Abstract: Why do religious politics thrive in some societies but not others? This paper explores the institutional foundations of this process in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim democracy. We show that a major Islamic institution, the waqf, fostered the entrenchment of political Islam at a critical historical juncture. In the early 1960s, rural elites transferred large amounts of land into waqf —a type of inalienable charitable trust—to avoid expropriation by the government as part of a major land reform effort. Although the land reform was later undone, the waqf properties remained. We show that greater intensity of the planned reform led to more prevalent waqf land and Islamic institutions endowed as such, including religious schools, which are strongholds of the Islamist movement. We identify lasting effects of the reform on electoral support for Islamist parties, preferences for religious candidates, and the adoption of Islamic legal regulations (sharia). Overall, the land reform contributed to the resilience and eventual rise of political Islam by helping to spread religious institutions, thereby solidifying the alliance between local elites and Islamist groups. These findings shed new light on how religious institutions may shape politics in modern democracies.
    Keywords: Religion; Institutions; Land reform; Islam; Sharia Law
    JEL: D72 D74 P16 P26 Z12
    Date: 2020–05
  4. By: Diego Carrasco Novoa (School of Economics, University of Queensland); Shino Takayamaz (School of Economics, University of Queensland); Yuki Tamura (Department of Economics, University of Rochester); Terence Yeo (School of Economics, University of Queensland)
    Abstract: We propose a two-party model of policy promises and valence for office-seeking candidates under a two-stage electoral process with strategic voters. In each party, there are two candidates, where one of these candidates—called the party’s advantaged candidate—has higher valence than the other. There are two equilibrium regimes. Which equilibrium arises depends on whether an advantaged candidate in one party can win both stages of the election with certainty. We provide the conditions for the existence of each regime and conduct comparative statics. In particular, we show that when an advantaged candidate’s valence increases, the distance between the policy promises made by the two advantaged candidates decreases and when public opinion becomes more diverse, the advantaged candidates shift their policy promises toward their own parties’ bliss points. Finally, we study the case where only one party holds a primary as well as the situation in which candidates strategically choose to enter a primary. Our model is robust under various extensions, and particularly useful for conducting comparative statics and providing testable predictions for electoral outcomes as public opinion changes.
    Keywords: cprimary election, median voter, uncertainty, valence.
    JEL: D72
    Date: 2020–07–12
  5. By: Kuriwaki, Shiro (Harvard University)
    Abstract: Large-scale ballot and survey data hold the potential to uncover the prevalence of swing voters and strong partisans in the electorate. However, existing approaches either employ exploratory analyses that fail to fully leverage the information available in high-dimensional data, or impose a one-dimensional spatial voting model. I derive a clustering algorithm which better captures the probabilistic way in which theories of political behavior conceptualize the swing voter. Building from the canonical finite mixture model, I tailor the model to vote data, for example by allowing uncontested races. I apply this algorithm to actual ballots in the Florida 2000 election and a multi-state survey in 2018. In Palm Beach County, I find that up to 60 percent of voters were straight ticket voters; in the 2018 survey, even higher. The remaining groups of the electorate were likely to cross the party line and split their ticket, but not monolithically: swing voters were more likely to swing for state and local candidates and popular incumbents.
    Date: 2020–06–23
  6. By: Balasubramaniam, Vimal (Queen Mary, University of London, CEPR, UK and CAGE, University of Warwick); Bhatiya, Apurav Yash (University of Warwick); Das, Sabyasachi (Ashoka University)
    Abstract: We examine whether holding national and state elections simultaneously or sequentially affects voter decisions and consequently, electoral and economic outcomes in India. Synchronized elections increase the likelihood of the same political party winning constituencies in both tiers by 21%. It reduces split-ticket voting, increases the salience of party among voters and shifts voters’ priority to state issues, without significantly affecting turnout and winning margin. A model of behaviorally constrained voters with costly information acquisition best explains our results. Finally, synchronization results in insignificant economic gains. Our findings have implications for the design of elections to multiple tiers of government.
    Date: 2020
  7. By: Massimo Bordignon (Catholic University, Milan); Matteo Gamalerio (Universitat de Barcelona & IEB); Edoardo Slerca (Universita' della Svizzera Italiana); Gilberto Turati (Catholic University, Rome)
    Abstract: Why do anti-immigrant political parties have more success in areas that host fewer immigrants? Using regression discontinuity design, structural breaks search methods and data from a sample of Italian municipalities, we show that the relationship between the vote shares of anti-immigrant parties and the share of immigrants follows a U-shaped curve, which exhibits a tipping-like behavior around a share of immigrants equal to 3.35 %. We estimate that the vote share of the main Italian anti-immigrant party (Lega Nord) is approximately 6 % points higher for municipalities below the threshold. Using data on local labor market characteristics and on the incomes of natives and immigrants, we provide evidence which points at the competition in the local labor market between natives and immigrants as the more plausible explanation for the electoral success of anti-immigrant parties in areas with low shares of immigrants. Alternative stories find less support in the data.
    Keywords: Migration, extreme-right parties, anti-immigrant parties, populism, tipping point, regression discontinuity design
    JEL: D72 J61 R23
    Date: 2020
  8. By: Leopoldo Fergusson; Juan Felipe Riaño; B.K. Song
    Abstract: Can the media determine the success or failure of institutional reforms? We study the adoption of secret voting in the US and the role of media in this arguably crucial step to improve democracy. Using a difference-in-difference identification strategy and a rich dataset on local newspapers, we find that in areas with high levels of media penetration democratization outcomes improved following the adoption of the secret ballot. Specifically, the press contributed to the decrease in partisan attachment and support for dominant parties. The press also undermined the manipulation of electoral boundaries and the unintentional decline in turnout incentivized with the introduction of the secret ballot. We consider multiple concerns about our identification strategy and address the potential endogeneity of newspapers using an instrumental variable approach that exploits the introduction of wood-pulp paper technology in 1880 combined with counties’ woodland coverage during the same period. Exploring the heterogeneous effects of our results, we argue that the media mattered through the distribution of information to voters and the increase of public awareness about political misconduct.
    Keywords: Media, Secret Ballot, Democratization, Electoral Reforms, Gerrymandering
    JEL: D72 D73 D80 L82
    Date: 2020–07–08
  9. By: Casas i Klett, Tomas; Cozzi, Guido; Diebold, Celine; Zeller, Camille
    Abstract: The aim of this paper is two-fold. Firstly, we present a methodology to measure the novel concept of elite quality (EQ), that is, country’s elites’ propensity– on aggregate – to create value, rather than rent seek. A four-level architecture allows for both an overall quantification of a country’s EQ, as well as an in-depth analysis of specific political economy dimensions, such as elite power. Secondly, the Elite Quality Index (EQx) is brought to life using data on 72 indicators for 32 countries. Our index negatively correlates with inequality measures, which suggests that more powerful elites less inclined to run value creation business models will exacerbate inequality. A variety of robustness tests suggest that the EQx scores and ranking are robust to ceteris paribus changes in key modelling assumptions. Thus, the EQx offers a reliable framework and new tool to analyze the political economy of countries.
    Keywords: index; elite quality; institutions; value creation; rent seeking; crony capitalism.
    JEL: D72 F5 P16 P48
    Date: 2020–07–25
  10. By: Katarzyna Salach (University of Warsaw); Michal Brzezinski (University of Warsaw)
    Abstract: We use newly collected original panel data on the super-wealthy individuals in Poland (observed over 2002-2018) to study the impact of the rich’s political connections on their wealth level, mobility among the rich and the risk of dropping off the rich list. The multimillionaires are classified as politically connected if we find reliable news stories linking their wealth to political contacts or questionable licenses, or if a person was formerly an informant of communist Security Service or member of the communist party, or when the origins of wealth are connected to the privatization process. We find that political connections are not associated with the wealth level of Polish multimillionaires, but that they are linked to the 20-30% lower probability of upward mobility in the ranking of the rich. Moreover, being a former member of the communist party or secret police informant increases the risk of dropping off the Polish rich list by 79%. Taken together, our results show that, contrary to some other post-socialist countries such as Russia or Ukraine, there is little evidence that the Polish economy suffers from crony capitalism.
    Keywords: the super-rich, oligarchs, political connections, crony capitalism, Poland.
    JEL: D31 D63 P36
    Date: 2020–07
  11. By: Enrico Cantoni; Vincent Pons
    Abstract: We test whether politicians can use direct contact to reconnect with citizens, increase turnout, and win votes. During the 2014 Italian municipal elections, we randomly assigned 26,000 voters to receive visits from city council candidates, canvassers supporting the candidates' list, or to a control group. While canvassers’ visits increased turnout by 1.8 percentage points, candidates’ had no impact on participation. Candidates increased their own vote share in the precincts they canvassed, but only at the expense of other candidates on the list. This suggests that their failure to mobilize nonvoters resulted from focusing on securing the preferences of active voters.
    JEL: C93 D72
    Date: 2020–06
  12. By: Endrich, Marek; Gutmann, Jerg
    Abstract: We analyze the effect of state visits by the Catholic pope on human rights in the host country to illustrate how a small theocracy like the Vatican can exert significant political influence in international politics. Our theoretical model of the strategic interaction between the Catholic Church and the government shows how the pope uses the threat of shaming to incentivize governments to refrain from violations of human rights. Drawing on a new dataset of papal state visits outside Italy and a novel identification strategy, we test the hypothesis that governments react in anticipation of a papal visit by improving human rights protection. The existence of such a causal effect is supported by the data.
    Keywords: Catholic Church,human rights,political economy,pope,repression,shaming
    JEL: D74 D78 F5 P16 P26 P48 Z12
    Date: 2020
  13. By: Bussolo, Maurizio; De Nicola, Francesca; Panizza, Ugo; Varghese, Richard
    Abstract: We examine whether political connections ease fi nancial constraints faced byfi rms. Usingfi rm-level data from six Central and Eastern European economies, we show that politically connected fi rms are characterized by: (i) higher leverage, (ii) lower pofi tability, (iii) lower capitalization, (iv) lower marginal productivity of capital, and (v) lower levels of investment than unconnected fi rms. Politically connected fi rms borrow more because they have easier access than unconnectedfi rms to credit but tend to be less productive than unconnected fi rms. Our results are consistent with the idea that political connections distort capital allocation and may have welfare costs.
    Keywords: Corruption; Financial constraints; investment; Political Connections
    JEL: D22 O17 P12 P14
    Date: 2019–11
  14. By: Claudio Ferraz; Frederico Finan; Monica Martinez-Bravo
    Abstract: This paper analyzes how changes in the concentration of political power affect long-run development. We study Brazil’s military dictatorship whose rise to power dramatically altered the distribution of power of local political elites. We document that municipalities that were more politically concentrated prior to the dictatorship in the 1960s are relatively richer in 2000, despite being poorer initially. Our evidence suggests that this reversal of fortune was the result of the military’s policies aimed at undermining the power of traditional elites. These policies increased political competition locally, which ultimately led to better governance, more public goods, and higher income levels.
    JEL: D72 N46 O43
    Date: 2020–06
  15. By: Kodjovi M. Eklou (International Monetary Fund)
    Abstract: This paper examines the relation between oil price shocks and the selection of educated national leaders. Exploiting a cross-country dataset on national leaders and a Difference-in-Difference approach, I find that positive oil price shocks significantly reduce the probability of selecting educated leaders--a ‘leadership curse’. I show that this phenomenon is driven by ethnically fragmented developing countries. I develop a model where a coalition of ethnic chiefs offers an electoral support to candidates in exchange for future favors. The model shows that positive oil price shocks deter the candidacy of educated citizens by allowing the coalition to tax the expected payoff from office. Hence, elites bargaining may constrain the ability of citizens to induce significant changes through the ballot box. The paper adds to the political aspects of the “resource curse” by showing that resource booms affect the “quality” of politicians before they take office.
    Keywords: Leadership curse, Oil price shocks, Political selection, National leadership.
    JEL: D72 Q33
    Date: 2020–06
  16. By: Filippetti, Andrea (Italian National Research Council (CNR) and Birkbeck College, University of London); Vezzani, Antonio (University Roma Tre, Department of Economics)
    Abstract: The broad consensus about the benefits of public research is at odds with the fact that investment is in general declining but with different patterns across countries. This triggers our research question: why do some governments invest in public research more than others? By relying on political economy literature, we frame investment in public research as a political choice depending on the political institutions of countries. Based on an empirical analysis on 41 countries we find a robust relationship between public-funded research and political institutions. Countries with parliamentary forms of government, proportional electoral rules and bicameralism devote larger shares of GDP and of public expenditure to research. We also find a great role of encompassing civic society organizations in encouraging public research. Political economy offers a promising perspective to delve into the patterns of public research. As for policy implications, majoritarian-like reforms might discourage long-term policies and harm the long-term potential for economic growth.
    Keywords: public research, political economy, R&D, innovation policy
    JEL: O31 O33 O38 P16 P48
    Date: 2020–06–18
  17. By: Ludema, Rodney D; Mayda, Anna Maria; Yu, Miaojie; Yu, Zhi
    Abstract: This paper explores the political economy of import protection in a setting where imports may contain a country's own domestic value added (DVA) via domestically produced inputs that get exported and used in foreign downstream production. We show that import-competing producers and their domestic input suppliers are generally allies in favor of protection, but this alliance weakens as DVA increases, because a home tariff on finished goods decreases foreign demand for home inputs. Empirically, we examine detailed discriminatory trade policies of 23 countries toward China and use Chinese transaction-level processing trade data to construct a measure of DVA. We also measure input customization. We find that both upstream and downstream political organization increase downstream protection, but the effect of the former is smaller when DVA as a share of final imports from China is larger. Tariffs on products containing inputs that are neither customized nor politically organized appear to be unaffected by the DVA share.
    Keywords: global value chains; Lobbying; trade policy
    JEL: F10 F13 F14
    Date: 2019–11
  18. By: Snower, Dennis J.
    Abstract: This paper examines how skill-biased growth can generate economic fragmentation (income disparities) that give rise to social fragmentation (the adoption of increasingly incompatible social identities and values), which generate political fragmentation (the adoption of increasingly incompatible economic policies). Our model of social fragmentation focuses on three values-driven identities: individualism (focused on status concerns), communitarianism (focused on the benefits of social affiliations), and multi-affilatedness (encompassing both individualistic and communitarian objectives). Our analysis shows how the high-, middle- and low-skilled people are drawn to individualistic, multi-affiliated and communitarian objectives, respectively. We show how skill-biased growth leads to an expansion of the individualistic and communitarian groups, at the expense of the tolerant multi-affiliates. Consequently, there is a narrowing of the moral foundations driving economic policy. We examine the conditions under which these developments increase size of the political constituency for protectionist-nationalist policies (which destroy productivity, compress the income distribution and promote the benefits of social affiliation).
    Date: 2019–11
  19. By: Joao Tovar Jalles; Carlos Mulas-Granados; José Tavares
    Abstract: Welook at the effect of exchange rate regimes on fiscal discipline, taking into account the effect of underlying political conditions. We present a model where strong politics (defined as policymakers facing longer political horizonand higher cohesion) areassociated with better fiscal performance, but fixed exchange rates may revert this result and lead to less fiscal discipline. We confirm these hypotheses through regression analysis performed on a panel sample covering 79 countries from 1975 to 2012. Ourempirical results also show that the positiveeffectof strong politics on fiscal discipline is not enough to counter the negative impact of being at/moving to fixed exchange rates. Our results are robust to a number of sensitivitychecks, includingthe use of different estimators, alternative proxies for fiscal disciplineand sub-sample analysis.
    Keywords: Fiscal discipline, Deficit, Political Economy,Exchange Rates
    JEL: H11 H62 H63
    Date: 2020–07
  20. By: Alessio Romarri (Universitat de Barcelona & IEB)
    Abstract: In this paper, I empirically evaluate the effect of exposure to the Internet on Spanish attitudes towards immigrants. Exploiting a confidential, innovative survey dataset, I am able to identify a relationship between Internet access and attitudes towards immigrants at the micro (municipal) level. I address the endogeneity of Internet availability by looking at pre-existing voice telecommunication characteristics and using outcome variables before and after the arrival of the Internet. Results show that Internet availability between 2008 and 2012 is associated with a better knowledge of (national) immigration dynamics and that it leads to an overall improvement in attitudes towards immigrants. This result is particularly strong among young and urban individuals. Additionally, I find that access to the Internet reduces political support for the Partido Popular, Spain’s traditional right-wing party.
    Keywords: Internet, attitudes, voting
    JEL: J15 J17
    Date: 2020
  21. By: Carlos Sanz (Bank of Spain); Albert Solé-Ollé (University of Barcelona & IEB); Pilar Sorribas-Navarro (University of Barcelona & IEB)
    Abstract: We investigate whether corruption amplifies the political effects of economic crises. Using Spanish municipal-level data and a difference-in-difference strategy, we find that local unemployment shocks experienced during the Great Recession (2008-2015) increased political fragmentation. This effect was four times larger in municipalities exposed to malfeasance than in municipalities without a history of political corruption. We bolster this evidence by showing that, conditional on province and population-strata fixed effects, there is no evidence of differential pre-trends. We also find that the interaction of unemployment and corruption harms the two traditional main parties and benefits especially the new party on the left (Podemos).
    Keywords: Accountability, Corruption, Political Fragmentation, Economic Crisis
    JEL: D72 D73 H12
    Date: 2020
  22. By: Ali Fakih (Lebanese American University); Paul Makdissi (University of Ottawa); Walid Marrouch (University of Ottawa); Rami V. Tabri (UUniversity of Sydney); Myra Yazbeck (University of Ottawa and School of Economics, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia)
    Abstract: This paper uses the 2013 World Value Survey, as well as the 2016 and 2018 waves of the Arab Barometer, to analyze the dynamics of trust in public institutions in Lebanon. It finds strong evidence that confidence in most public institutions has decreased between 2013 and 2016. The evidence of this decrease is robust to the numerical scale assigned to the different ordinal categories of trust and to assumptions on the missing values generating process. This finding highlights the importance for policymakers in developing countries to survey the perceptions and political attitude of their constituents in order to improve the performance of public institutions.
    Keywords: Confidence, institutions, uprising, ordinal variable
    JEL: D72 O53 P16 P40
    Date: 2020–07
  23. By: Chun-Fang Chiang; Jason M. Kuo; Megumi Naoi; Jin-Tan Liu
    Abstract: The paper demonstrates voter-based mechanisms underlying policy emulation across countries. We argue that exposure to news about foreign government policies and their effect can change policy preferences of citizens through emulation and backlash against it. These heterogeneous responses arise due to citizens’ divergent predispositions about a foreign country being their peer. We test this argument with coordinated survey experiments in Japan and Taiwan, which randomly assigned news reporting on the South Korea-China trade agreement and solicited support for their government signing an agreement with China. The results suggest that exposure to the news decreases opposition to a trade agreement with China by 6 percentage points in Taiwan (“emulation”) and increases opposition around 8 percentage points in Japan (“backlash”). The results further suggest respondents’ predispositions about peer countries account for the heterogeneity. Our findings caution the optimism about policy convergence across countries as technology lowers the cost of acquiring information.
    JEL: D7 F13 L82
    Date: 2020–07
  24. By: Zhang, Hanzhe (Michigan State University, Department of Economics); Wu, Jiabin (Department of Economics, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR)
    Abstract: We apply an evolutionary game theory model to explain polarization, antipathy, and political activism as a consequence of the co-evolution of individuals' ideologies and attitudes toward other ideologies. We show that the evolutionary process results in a vicious cycle with individuals becoming increasingly polarized on the ideological spectrum and the society ending up with two politically engaged groups sharing no common grounds and strong hatred against each other.
    Keywords: polarization; antipathy; political activism; value formation; cultural transmission; evolutionary game theory
    JEL: C73 Z13
    Date: 2020–08–04
  25. By: Hager, Anselm (University of Konstanz); Hensel, Lukas (University of Oxford); Hermle, Johannes (University of California, Berkeley); Roth, Christopher (University of Warwick, briq, CESifo, CAGE Warwick, CEPR)
    Abstract: Collective action is the result of the efforts of groups consisting of many individuals. This gives rise to strategic interactions : the decision of an individual to participate in collective action may depend on the efforts of both like-minded and opposing activists. This paper causally studies such strategic interactions in the context of left- and right-wing protests in Germany. In an experiment, we investigated whether randomly varied information on turnout of both like-minded and opposing movements impacts activists’ willingness to protest. In response to information about high turnout of their own group, left-wing activists increased their willingness to protest, consistent with theories of conditional cooperation. In contrast, right-wing activists decreased their willingness to protest, consistent with instrumental accounts and free-riding motives. For both groups, there was no significant reaction to information about turnout of the opposing movement. The results highlight substantial heterogeneity in strategic interactions and motives across the political spectrum
    Keywords: Political rallies ; field experiment ; strategic behavior ; beliefs
    Date: 2020
  26. By: Natalia Garbiras-Díaz (University of California, Berkeley); Miguel García-Sánchez (Universidad de los Andes); Aila Matanock (University of California, Berkeley)
    Abstract: Citizens are often asked to evaluate peace agreements seeking to end civil conflicts, by voting on referendums or the negotiating leaders or, even when not voting, deciding whether to cooperate with the implementation of policies like combatant reintegration. In this paper, we assess how citizens form attitudes towards the provisions in peace agreements. These contexts tend to have high polarization, and citizens are asked to weigh in on complex policies, so we theorize that citizens will use cues from political elites with whom they have affinity, and, without these cues, information will have less effect. We assess our theory using survey experiments in Colombia. We find citizens rely on political elites’ cues to form their opinion on a peace agreement’s provisions, with the direction depending on the citizen’s affinity with the political elites. Additional information about these policies has little effect. The paper suggests that even these high stakes decisions can be seen as political decisions as usual.
    Keywords: Colombia; Crime; Policing; Politics; Public Opinion; Violence; peace agreements; attitudes; elite cues; FARC
    JEL: D74 D91 F51 O54
    Date: 2020–07
  27. By: Moldovanu, Benny; Rosar, Frank
    Abstract: We analyze Brexit-like decisions in a polarized society. An electorate decides repeatedly be-tween a reversible alternative (REMAIN) and an irreversible alternative (LEAVE). We compare strengths and weaknesses of several mechanisms that can be used in reality. Voting by super-majority dominates voting by simple majority. Decisions by simple majority and by a too small super majority can perform very poorly under circumstances where it is socially optimal to never LEAVE, as they can exhibit equilibria where LEAVE is chosen very quickly. Mechanisms where LEAVE requires (super)majorities in two consecutive periods avoid this problem without relying on fine-tuning, but can lead to inefficient delays. If a final decision for either alternative requires winning by a certain margin, and if a new vote is triggered otherwise, both problems, choosing LEAVE too easily and inefficient delays, can often be avoided.
    Keywords: Dynamic voting; Irreversible option; Option value; Supermajority rules
    JEL: C72 D72 D82
    Date: 2019–11
  28. By: Chimere O. Iheonu (University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria); Kingsley O. Odo (University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria); Davidmac O. Ekeocha (University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria)
    Abstract: Peace has been deemed paramount to socioeconomic progress and economic development across nations. It is for this reason nations strive to improve the peaceful coexistence of citizens. This study investigates the effect of democracy, governance and militarisation on peace in 43 African countries for the year 2018 in a cross sectional framework. The Ordinary Least Square (OLS), the Tobit regression and the Quantile Regression (QR) were employed as estimation strategies. The empirical results firstly reveal that democracy increases peace in Africa, particularly in countries where the initial level of peace is at its highest level. Secondly, militarisation of Africa reduces peace in the region only in countries where the initial level of peace is at its highest level. Thirdly, the influence of governance on peace in Africa depends majorly on the measure of governance utilised. The control of corruption, government effectiveness and regulatory quality increase peace where the initial level of peace is at its lowest level. Political stability increases peace across the entire quantiles utilised while rule of law increases peace in countries where the initial level of peace is low. In conclusion, governance in general increases peace in the countries where initial level of peace is very low. Policy recommendations based on these findings are discussed.
    Keywords: Democracy; Governance; Militarisation; Peace; Africa
    Date: 2020–01

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