nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2020‒12‒14
thirteen papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. The Political Economy of Vermont’s Abortion Bill By Shishir Shakya; Elham Erfanian; Alexandre R. Scarcioffolo
  2. Why so negative? Negative party positioning in spatial models of voting By Hoch, Felix; Kellermann, Kim Leonie
  3. Election fairness and government legitimacy in Afghanistan By Berman, Eli; Callen, Mike; Gibson, Clark C.; Long, James D.; Rezaee, Arman
  4. When one side stays home: A joint model of turnout and vote choice By Johan A Elkink; Sarah Parlane; Thomas Sattler
  5. Worker Voice and Political Participation in Civil Society By Budd, John W.; Lamare, J. Ryan
  6. Expressive Voting vs. Self-Serving Ignorance By Katharina Momsen; Markus Ohndorf
  7. Strategic Compromise, Policy Bundling and Interest Group Power By Bellani, Luna; Fabella, Vigile Marie; Scervini, Francesco
  8. Political budget cycles in European public procurement By Havlik, Annika
  9. Trump, China, and the Republicans By Ben G. Li; Yi Lu; Pasquale Sgro; Xing Xu
  10. Political Ideology, Cooperation, and National Parochialism Across 42 Nations By Angelo Romano; Matthias Sutter; James H. Liu; Daniel Balliet
  11. Artificial partisan advantage in redistricting By Eguia, Jon
  12. Homo moralis goes to the voting booth: coordination and information aggregation By Alger, Ingela; Laslier, Jean-François
  13. The franchise, policing, and race: Evidence from arrests data and the Voting Rights Act By Giovanni Facchini; Brian Knight; Cecilia Testa

  1. By: Shishir Shakya (Department of Economics, Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania); Elham Erfanian (Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Kentucky); Alexandre R. Scarcioffolo (Department of Economics and Finance, Georgia College & State University)
    Abstract: Public choice literature divides the rationality of voting between instrumental and expressive. In this paper, we take the Vermont legislature in passing the H. 57 bill as a case to explain some of the determinants of expressive voting empirically. The H.57 bill declares that no government entity can interfere with, or restrict, a consenting individual’s right to abortion care across the entire gestation period. However, the bill has not changed the previously states quo of the state towards abortion rights. Thus, it creates a situation in which we can analyze the legislator’s voting behavior through the lens of expressive voting framework. We utilize a high dimensional dataset and post-double-selection LASSO method to explain the channels that influence the expressive voting on the H. 57 bill. We web scrape the lower and upper chamber voting data on H.57 bill and use the 2017 American Community Survey 5-year estimates to retrieve 89 different socioeconomic, housing, and demographic characteristics of State Legislative Districts. Our results suggest channels of poverty, gender, and population diversity are some crucial mechanisms.
    Keywords: Expressive voting, LASSO, Abortion, Vermont
    JEL: D72 D73
    Date: 2020–10–07
  2. By: Hoch, Felix; Kellermann, Kim Leonie
    Abstract: Why should political parties say what they do not want instead of saying what they want? In this paper, we introduce the concept of negative positioning into spatial models of voting and discuss its relevance as a campaigning tool in European multiparty systems. By negative positioning, we refer to the rejection, denial or criticism of opposing positions on a political issue scale without providing information on what a party's own position is instead. We argue that negative positioning is an attractive tool in reaction to high issue salience among voters as it allows to acknowledge the respective issue without costly commitment to or design of own policy proposals. We provide a first empirical test of our concept for elections held in 26 European countries between 2002 and 2018, examining immigration as an issue with a highly volatile salience. We use data on voter issue salience from the Eurobarometer and on party positions from the Manifesto Project Database. Indeed we find that if an issue is highly salient among voters, parties increase the share of negative positioning on that issue in their manifestos. Interestingly, negative positioning is more prevalent among smaller, opposition and extreme parties.
    Keywords: issue salience,party positioning,negative positioning,negative campaigning
    JEL: C33 D71 D72 D78
    Date: 2020
  3. By: Berman, Eli; Callen, Mike; Gibson, Clark C.; Long, James D.; Rezaee, Arman
    Abstract: Elections can enhance state legitimacy. One way is by improving citizens’ attitudes toward government, thereby increasing their willingness to comply with rules and regulations. We investigate whether reducing fraud in elections improves attitudes toward government in a fragile state. A large, randomly assigned fraud-reducing intervention in Afghan elections leads to improvement in two indices, one measuring attitudes toward their government, and another measuring stated willingness to comply with governance. Thus, reducing electoral fraud may offer a practical, cost-effective method of enhancing governance in a fragile state.
    Keywords: election fraud; democracy; legitimacy; development; experiment; Afghanistan
    JEL: H41 O10 O17 O53 P16
    Date: 2019–12–01
  4. By: Johan A Elkink (School of Politics and International Relations, University College Dublin); Sarah Parlane (School of Economics, University College Dublin); Thomas Sattler (Universite de Geneve)
    Abstract: Most existing studies of referendums examine voter turnout and their vote choice separately. Our theoretical model suggests that this is problematic. The model predicts that voters who generally prefer one of the two possible referendum outcomes, but who are relatively uncertain about the consequences of their preferred option, tend to abstain from voting. Greater uncertainty about a referendum option not only reduces its value, but also, for more "distant" voters, the value of participating. Uncertainty, thus, has a double effect: potential supporters of one referendum option are less likely to vote; and citizens who vote are less likely to support this option. We use data from the ‘Brexit’ vote to show how individual assessments of uncertainty about the two-options affect turnout and the vote. Our empirical analyses provide support for our theoretical model.
    Keywords: referendums, turnout, uncertainty, European integration, electoral behavior and Brexit
    Date: 2020–11–12
  5. By: Budd, John W.; Lamare, J. Ryan
    Abstract: Worker voice can relate to political and civic participation in numerous ways. Individual and collective voice can equip individuals with skills and attitudes that increase political engagement, and unions also explicitly encourage members to be politically aware, vote, and run for office. Labor unions and union federations are also often direct participants in the political and policy-making process. This chapter outlines the key theoretical channels by which worker voice can affect political and civic participation, highlights important methodological challenges in identifying causal relationships and mechanisms, and summarizes the major research findings pertaining to nonunion and union voice. In summarizing the major theoretical alternatives, a distinction is made between (a) experiential spillovers in which political and civic participation is facilitated by workers' experience with voice, and (b) intentional efforts by voice institutions, especially labor unions, to increase political and civic participation. In practice, however, the experiential versus intentional transmission mechanisms can be hard to distinguish, so the review of the empirical record is structured around individual-level voice versus collective voice, especially labor unions. Attention is also devoted to the aggregate effects of and participation in the political arena by labor unions. Overall, a broad approach is taken which includes not only classic issues such higher voting rates among union members, but also emerging issues such as whether union members are less likely to vote for extremist parties and the conditions under which labor unions are likely to be influential in the political sphere.
    Keywords: worker voice,employee voice,political participation,civic participation,voter turnout
    JEL: J51 J54 M54
    Date: 2020
  6. By: Katharina Momsen; Markus Ohndorf
    Abstract: We experimentally examine the effect of self-serving information avoidance on democratic and individual decisions in the context of climate change mitigation. Subjects need to choose between two allocations which differ in own payoffs and contributions to carbon offsets. In a between-subjects design, we vary the observability of the offset contribution, as well as the institutional decision context: individual consumption, dictatorship, and majority voting in small and large groups. If information is directly observable, we find robust evidence for expressive voting. However, in cases where information is initially unobservable but revealable without cost, there is no significant difference in selfish decisions between institutional decision contexts. We also find robust evidence for the exploitation of moral wiggle room via self-serving information avoidance in our consumption context, as well as with voting in large groups. Our results indicate that information avoidance effectively substitutes expressive ethical voting as an instrument to manage self-image on the part of the voter. This suggests that moral biases might be less likely in elections than previously thought.
    Keywords: Expressive voting, information avoidance, experiment, moral wiggle room, climate change
    JEL: C90 D12 D64 D72 D89 Q50
    Date: 2020
  7. By: Bellani, Luna (University of Konstanz); Fabella, Vigile Marie (University of Konstanz); Scervini, Francesco (Istituto Universitario di Studi Superiori di Pavia (IUSS))
    Abstract: Policy reforms are often multifaceted. In the rent-seeking literature policies are usually taken as one-dimensional. This paper models policy formation using a political contest with endogenous policy proposals containing two dimensions. The two dimensions provide an opportunity to trade off one policy over another to make the lobbying opposition less aggressive. In a first stage, the Government proposes a reform over the two policies, and in a second stage engages in a contest with an Interest Group over the enactment of the proposed reform. As a result, the Government makes a compromise, under-proposing in the policy the Interest Group opposes and over-proposing in the policy the Interest Group desires. Effectively, there will be strategic bundling of desired policies with undesired ones in an attempt to increase enactment probability and overall utility.
    Keywords: contest, political reforms, lobbies
    JEL: D72 D86 H4
    Date: 2020–12
  8. By: Havlik, Annika
    Abstract: This paper studies whether political budget cycles occur in public procurement in the European Union. Using project- level data from Tenders Electronic Daily (2008-2018), I analyze different steps along the procurement process, namely the publication of the contract notice, the awarding of the contract, and the completion of the project. While there is no evidence of an increased activity in project completions, I find an increase in public procurement contract notices and awards prior to national parliamentary elections. This effect is more pronounced for visible and labor-intensive projects and can be interpreted as a "credible election promise", as the budget for the project is only committed at the time of the award and not spent yet.
    Keywords: public procurement,political budget cycles,elections,European Union
    JEL: D72 D73 H57
    Date: 2020
  9. By: Ben G. Li; Yi Lu; Pasquale Sgro; Xing Xu
    Abstract: The Republican Party has been the party most supportive of free trade in American politics for half a century. President Donald Trump, who is a Republican, holds a different stance from his party on free trade. We assess how Trump’s China tariffs in mid-2018 impacted the performance of his party in its midterm house elections later that year. We construct a measure of each county’s exposure to Trump’s China tariffs and merge that with the Republican share of votes in the county. We find that the counties heavily exposed to the tariffs were more supportive of their Republican house candidates. This association is stronger and causal in counties that previously voted for Democratic politicians. The Republican Party, despite losing its majority in the house, would have lost more seats without Trump’s China tariffs.
    Keywords: China, Donald Trump, Republican Party, trade, tariffs
    Date: 2020
  10. By: Angelo Romano (Leiden University); Matthias Sutter (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods); James H. Liu (Massey University, Auckland, NZ); Daniel Balliet (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)
    Abstract: Political ideology has been hypothesized to be associated with cooperation and national parochialism (i.e., greater cooperation with members of one’s nation), with liberals thought to have more cooperation with strangers and less national parochialism, compared to conservatives. However, previous findings are limited to few – and predominantly western – nations. Here, we present a large-scale cross-societal experiment that can test hypotheses on the relation between political ideology, cooperation, and national parochialism around the globe. To do so, we recruited 18,411 participants from 42 nations. Participants made decisions in a prisoner’s dilemma game, and we manipulated the nationality of their interaction partner (national ingroup member, national outgroup member, or unidentified stranger). We found that liberals, compared to conservatives, displayed slightly greater cooperation, trust in others, and greater identification with the world as a whole. Conservatives, however, identified more strongly with their own nation and displayed slightly greater national parochialism in cooperation. Importantly, the association between political ideology and behavior was significant in nations characterized by higher wealth, stronger rule of law, and better government effectiveness. We discuss the implications of these findings for understanding the association between political ideology and cooperation.
    Keywords: Cooperation, political ideology, culture, parochial altruism
    Date: 2020–11
  11. By: Eguia, Jon (Michigan State University, Department of Economics)
    Abstract: I propose a measure of artificial partisan advantage in redistricting. Redistricting is the process of drawing electoral district maps. Electoral outcomes depend on the maps drawn. The measure I propose compares the share of seats won by a party to the share of the population that lives in jurisdictions (counties and towns) won by this party. If a party has a larger share of seats than the share of the population in jurisdictions in which the party won most votes, then the drawing of the electoral maps conferred an artificial advantage to this party. This measure takes into account the geographic sorting of partisan voters and is simple to compute. Using U.S. election data from 2012 to 2018, I find an artificial partisan advantage of seventeen House seats to the Republican party. I argue that the artificial partisan advantage in the congressional maps of North Carolina, Utah, Michigan and Ohio is excessive.
    Keywords: Election law; redistricting; gerrymandering; partisan advantage
    JEL: D72 K16
    Date: 2020–12–01
  12. By: Alger, Ingela; Laslier, Jean-François
    Abstract: This paper revisits two classical problems in the theory of voting-viz. the divided majority problem and the strategic revelation of information by majority vote-in the light of evolutionarily founded partial Kantian morality. It is shown that, compared to electorates consisting of purely self-interested voters, such Kantian morality helps voters solve coordination problems and improves the information aggregation properties of equilibria, even for modest levels of morality.
    Keywords: voting, Homo moralis, Kantian morality, social dilemmas, divided majority problem, Condorcet jury theorem
    Date: 2020–11
  13. By: Giovanni Facchini; Brian Knight; Cecilia Testa
    Abstract: This paper investigates the relationship between the franchise and law enforcement practices using evidence from the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965. We find that, following the VRA, black arrest rates fell in counties that were both covered by the legislation and had a large number of newly enfranchised black voters. We uncover no corresponding patterns for white arrest rates. The reduction in black arrest rates is driven by less serious offenses, for which police might have more enforcement discretion. Importantly, our results are driven by arrests carried out by sheriffs - who are always elected. While there are no corresponding changes for municipal police chiefs in aggregate, we do find similar patterns in covered counties with elected rather than appointed chiefs. We also show that our findings cannot be rationalized by alternative explanations, such as differences in collective bargaining, changes in the underlying propensity to commit crimes, responses to changes in policing practices, and changes in the suppression of civil right protests. Taken together, these results document that voting rights, when combined with elected, rather than appointed, chief law enforcement officers, can lead to improved treatment of minority groups by police.
    Keywords: Voting Rights Act, black arrest rates, black voters, elected sheriffs, arrests data, franchise, policing, minority groups
    Date: 2020

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