nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2021‒01‒11
eight papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. Developing Market-Oriented Politics in Nigeria: A Review of the 2019 Presidential Election By Olanrewaju O. Akinola; Ibrahim A. Adekunle
  2. Rewarding Allegiance : Political Alignment and Fiscal Outcomes in Local Government By Brunnschweiler, Christa N.; Obeng, Samuel Kwabena
  3. Trapped by the Prisoner’s Dilemma, the United States Presidential Election Needs a Coordination Device By Héloïse Cloléry; Yukio Koriyama
  4. Social Inequalities and the Politicization of Ethnic Cleavages in Botswana, Ghana, Nigeria, and Senegal, 1999-2019 By Jules Baleyte; Amory Gethin; Yajna Govind; Thomas Piketty
  5. Political Attitudes and Participation Among Young Arab Workers: A Comparison of Formal and Informal Workers in Five Arab Countries Impacts: Evidence from Turkey By Walid Merouani; Rana Jawad
  6. Inequality, Identity, and the Long-Run Evolution of Political Cleavages in Israel 1949-2019 By Yonatan Berman
  7. Heterogeneity in the Support for Mandatory Masks Unveiled By Muhammad Maaz; Anastasios Papanastasiou; Bradley J. Ruffle; Angela L. Zhang
  8. The economic effect of the 2015 Refugee Crisis in Sweden: Jobs, Crimes, Prices and Voter turnout By Uddfeldt, Arvid

  1. By: Olanrewaju O. Akinola (Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Nigeria); Ibrahim A. Adekunle (Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Nigeria)
    Abstract: The 2015 presidential elections in Nigeria were unique in many facets. Apart from being the first time an incumbent candidate of a ruling party lost to the candidate of the opposition party, it was also the first presidential election that did not go through expensive and rigorous post-election litigations processes. From the political marketing point of view, we argued that the market-oriented approach, the purposeful, coordinated, and strategic use of marketing communication media and tools contributed to the success of APC at the 2015 presidential polls. The success story of the 2015 election gave rise to the evolution of voter-centric election campaigns, indicating that marketing and communication professionals and strategies, rather than violence and electoral fraud, have dominated and could dictate the outcomes of future elections in Nigeria. Based on the foregoing, this study reviewed the 2019 presidential election (the next election after the 2015 general election in Nigeria) to ascertain if that anticipated better tomorrow is here. We rely on experts’ interviews, direct observations, and secondary materials to confirm if the political landscape in Nigeria is market-driven. Findings revealed that the 2019 presidential election was extremely monetised, violent, and fraught with all manners of electoral misconducts such that are antithetical to the principles and practice of political marketing. We aver that electioneering in Nigeria is not market-driven and voter-centric.
    Keywords: Political Marketing; Democracy; 2019 Election; Market-Orientation; Nigeria.
    Date: 2020–01
  2. By: Brunnschweiler, Christa N. (University of East Anglia); Obeng, Samuel Kwabena (University of East Anglia)
    Abstract: We examine how local governments' political alignment with central government affects subnational fiscal outcomes. In theory, alignment could be rewarded with more intergovernmental transfers, or swing voters in unaligned constituencies could be targeted instead. We analyze data from Ghana, which has a complex decentralized system: District Chief Executives (DCEs) are centrally-appointed local administrators loyal to the ruling party, while district MPs may belong to another party. A formula for transfer distribution aims to limit the ifluence of party politics. Using a new dataset for 1994-2014 and a regression discontinuity design, we find that despite this system, districts with aligned MP and DCE receive more transfers, have higher district expenditure, and more internally generated funds. Results are strongest for a subsample of constant districts over the period, suggesting that municipal fragmentation has weakened political alignment effects. We also show strong electoral cycle effects, and find a crowd-in effect for Ghanaian districts. JEL codes: H7 ; D72 ; H87 ; O55
    Keywords: fiscal federalism ; political alignment ; ypaper effect ; Ghana ; regression discontinuity
    Date: 2020
  3. By: Héloïse Cloléry; Yukio Koriyama (X - École polytechnique)
    Abstract: Summary: The system according to which the President of the United States of America is elected, the Electoral College, has often raised concerns. Among those, the winner-take-all rule is often criticized for potentially – and in recent years effectively – bringing to power a president who has not obtained the majority of the popular vote. This note shows that most of the reform proposals have failed due to the structure of the problem: the US Presidential Election is trapped by the Prisoner's Dilemma. Each state would rationally choose the winner-take-all rule in order to best reflect its citizens' preferences on the federal decision. However, the outcome of such a choice, if adopted by all states, would not be desirable for the nation as a whole, because it prevents the optimal aggregation of all citizens' preferences. A weighted proportional rule, if used by all states, would make all citizens better off by reflecting their preferences on the final decision more accurately. However, since each state has an incentive to adopt the winner-take-all rule regardless of the choice of the other states, it is impossible for all the states to adopt such a rule without a coordination device. We therefore analyze interesting attempts to escape from this dilemma, such as the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, and how our framework applies to representative democracy. Key points: The winner-take-all rule has been used almost exclusively in the US presidential elections since the 1830s, but has been criticized for various reasons. One of these is the occasional discrepancy between the election winner and the national popular vote results (e.g. George W. Bush vs. Al Gore in 2000, and Donald Trump vs. Hilary Clinton in 2016). The structure of the problem can be described with a game-theoretic analysis, at least partially: the Electoral College system is trapped by the Prisoner's Dilemma. States could benefit from cooperating, but they do not achieve this because each state does not have any guarantee that the other states would join a cooperative action. A coordination device is necessary in order to escape from the dilemma. Some interesting attempts, such as the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, are underway. The same structure of the dilemma appears in representative democracy. Party discipline may induce distortion of the preference aggregation and thus may be welfare-detrimental for the society.
    Date: 2020–10
  4. By: Jules Baleyte (INSEE); Amory Gethin (PSE - Paris School of Economics, PJSE - Paris Jourdan Sciences Economiques - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - 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, WIL - World Inequality Lab); Yajna Govind (PSE - Paris School of Economics, PJSE - Paris Jourdan Sciences Economiques - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - 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, WIL - World Inequality Lab); Thomas Piketty (PSE - Paris School of Economics, PJSE - Paris Jourdan Sciences Economiques - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - 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, WIL - World Inequality Lab)
    Abstract: This paper draws on political attitudes surveys to document the evolution of political cleavages in Botswana, Ghana, Nigeria, and Senegal, four African countries that have held regular multi-party elections in the past two decades. We discuss how colonialism, the politicization of ethnic identities, and the structure of social inequalities have differentially shaped party politics in these countries. Ethnic cleavages are tightly linked to ethnic inequalities, and are highest in Nigeria, at intermediate levels in Ghana, and lowest in Botswana and Senegal. We find evidence of strong educational and rural-urban divides, which cannot be explained by ethnic or regional affiliations. Our results suggest that in these four countries, electoral politics are not only explained by patronage, valence, or leader effects, but also clearly have a socioeconomic dimension. At a time when class cleavages have partly collapsed in old Western democracies, these African democracies could well be moving towards class-based party systems.
    Date: 2020–09
  5. By: Walid Merouani (Centre de Recherche en Economie Appliquée pour le Développement); Rana Jawad (University of Bath)
    Abstract: Political participation by citizens is important to ensure good governance and the accountability of policy makers’ decisions and initiatives. However, this issue may be especially difficult in contexts of high informal labour, defined in this paper as workers not enrolled in the formal social security system. This paper examines the topic of political participation among young workers in five Arab countries: Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, and Tunisia. It compares both formal and informal sector workers using data from the European Union’s 2018 SAHWA survey ( Amongst other variables, the paper tests the impact of informality on political participation. It uses four proxies for political participation to compare formal and informal workers in the case study countries: (1) affiliation to a political party or movement; (2) frequency of participation in political meetings/campaigns or participation in politics via the Internet; (3) frequency of speaking about politics and economic issues with peers; (4) voting in elections (both general and local). By controlling for demographic and socio-economic variables, the analysis uses discrete choice model to test the impact of this informality on the four proxies of political participation. An important contribution of this paper is to incorporate job satisfaction into the analysis. The results indicate that informal workers are less likely to participate in key political behaviours such as belonging to political parties, participating in political meetings and speaking about politics and voting with peers. The paper proposes some key policy implications arising from the analysis
    Date: 2020–12–20
  6. By: Yonatan Berman (LML - London Mathematical Laboratory)
    Abstract: This paper draws on pre-and post-election surveys to address the long run evolution of voting patterns in Israel from 1949 to 2019. The heterogeneous ethnic, cultural, educational, and religious backgrounds of Israelis created a range of political cleavages that evolved throughout its history and continue to shape its political climate and its society today. Despite Israel's exceptional characteristics, we find similar patterns to those found for France, the UK and the US. Notably, we find that in the 1960s-1970s, the vote for left-wing parties was associated with lower social class voters. It has gradually become associated with high social class voters during the late 1970s and later. We also find a weak interrelationship between inequality and political outcomes, suggesting that despite the social class cleavage, identity-based or "tribal" voting is still dominant in Israeli politics.
    Keywords: Political cleavages,Political economy,Income inequality,Israel
    Date: 2020–08
  7. By: Muhammad Maaz; Anastasios Papanastasiou; Bradley J. Ruffle; Angela L. Zhang
    Abstract: Despite well-documented benefits of wearing a mask to reduce COVID-19 transmission, widespread opposition to mandating mask-wearing persists. Both our game-theoretic model and our unique survey dataset point to heterogeneity in the perceived benefits and perceived costs of mask-wearing. Young, healthy, Canadian-born adult males who are politically conservative or without a college education are all more likely to oppose mandatory mask laws, as are individuals who do not take climate change seriously and who express less trust in doctors and in elected officials. Political conservatives disproportionately cite not wanting to live in fear and infringements on personal freedoms as reasons for not wearing masks. Our findings cannot be explained by individuals who substitute physical distancing for mask-wearing. We show that these two precautionary measures are complements.
    Keywords: COVID-19; mandatory protective masks; heterogeneity in beliefs; ideology; political partisanship
    JEL: I12 I18 J38
    Date: 2021–01
  8. By: Uddfeldt, Arvid
    Abstract: The civil war in Syria has culminated in a massive refugee crisis in neighboring and European countries. Millions of refugees made their way to Europe between 2014 and 2015, with more than 160 000 arriving in Sweden alone. Little is known about the impact of this influx on voting behavior, criminality rates, labor markets, and local price levels. By using data on the Swedish municipalities, the analysis estimates the short-run consequences of the refugee inflow. The results are found through a dynamic difference-in-difference estimator, which compare municipalities in Sweden who received relatively many refugees (treated) compared to those hosting relatively few refugees (control). The quasi-randomized allocation process of refugees in combination with a very high variation among the different municipalities refugee-intake creates stable conditions for reliable estimations through the difference-indifference approach. Regarding the labor market, the findings suggest that the treated groups hosting many refugees face higher unemployment rates and simultaneously lower wage levels. Additionally, the result indicates that the municipalities hosting more refugees face higher crimes committed per capita, particularly regarding assault- and fraud-related crimes. Furthermore, the results stress that the treated group meet higher vote shares in the subsequent national election in favor of the right-wing parties and decreasing support for the center-right, center-left, and left-wing parties. Surprisingly, the vote share of the antiimmigration party SD does not correlate with refugee-influx.
    Date: 2021–01–04

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