nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2021‒02‒15
twelve 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. Does Fake News Affect Voting Behaviour? By Michele Cantarella; Nicolò Fraccaroli; Roberto Volpe
  3. Strategic Ambiguity with Probabilistic Voting By Yasushi Asako
  4. Polarization in Parliamentary Speach By Jon H. Fiva; Oda Nedregård; Henning Øien
  5. A tale of two peoples: motivated reasoning in the aftermath of the Brexit vote By Sorace, Miriam; Hobolt, Sara
  6. Populism, Protectionism, and Political Instability By Tyler Daun; Sebastian Galiani; Gustavo Torrens
  7. Efficacy of Top down audits and Community Monitoring By Afridi, Farzana; Dhillon, Amrita; Chaudhuri, Arka Roy; Kaur, Dashleen
  8. Can Digitalization Help Deter Corruption in Africa? By Rasmané Ouedraogo; Amadou N Sy
  9. Good news for whom? The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine announcement reduced political trust By Heap, Shaun P. Hargreaves; Koop, Christel; Matakos, Konstantinos; Unan, Asli; Weber, Nina Sophie
  10. Political Regime and COVID 19 death rate: efficient, biasing or simply different autocracies ? By Guilhem Cassan; Milan Van Steenvoort
  11. Pandemic Populism: An Analysis of COVID-19’s Impact in the African American Community By Jeannette Hutton Pugh
  12. The long shadow of slavery: the persistence of slave owners in Southern law-making By Luna Bellani; Anselm Hager; Stephan E. Maurer

  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: Michele Cantarella (University of Modena and Reggio Emilia and University of Helsinki); Nicolò Fraccaroli (Università di Roma "Tor Vergata"); Roberto Volpe (LUISS Guido Carli)
    Abstract: We study the impact of fake news on votes for populist parties in the Italian elections of 2018. Our empirical strategy exploits the presence of Italian- and German-speaking voters in the Italian region of Trentino Alto-Adige/Südtirol as an exogenous source of assignment to fake news exposure. Using municipal data, we compare the effect of exposure to fake news on the vote for populist parties in the 2013 and 2018 elections. To do so, we introduce a novel indicator of populism using text mining on the Facebook posts of Italian parties before the elections. We find that exposure to fake news is positively correlated with vote for populist parties, but that less than half of this correlation is causal. Our findings support the view that exposure to fake news (i) favours populist parties, but also that (ii) it is positively correlated with prior support for populist parties, suggesting a self-selection mechanism.
    Keywords: Fake News, Political Economy, Electoral Outcomes, Populism
    JEL: C26 D72 P16
    Date: 2020–06–17
  3. By: Yasushi Asako (Faculty of Political Science and Economics, Waseda University)
    Abstract: Political parties and candidates usually prefer making ambiguous promises. This study identiÖes the conditions under which candidates choose ambiguous promises in equilibrium, given convex utility functions of voters. The results show that in a deterministic model, no equilibrium exists when voters have convex utility functions. However, in a probabilistic voting model, candidates make ambiguous promises in equilibrium when, (i) voters have convex utility functions, and (ii) the distribution of votersímost preferred policies is polarized.
    Keywords: elections; political ambiguity; public promise; campaign platform; probabilistic voting; polarization
    JEL: D71 D72
    Date: 2019–05
  4. By: Jon H. Fiva; Oda Nedregård; Henning Øien
    Abstract: We study political polarization in a parliamentary setting dominated by strong parties. In addition to examining polarization along the left-right dimension, we consider political divergence between legislators belonging to the same political bloc. Are politicians’ background characteristics unimportant when parties have powerful tools to discipline their rank-and-file? We investigate this question using legislative speech from the Norwegian Parliament and recently developed techniques for measuring group differences in high-dimensional choices. Across the background characteristics we consider — gender, age, urbanicity, and class background — we document substantial differences in speech, even when comparing legislators from the same party bloc and policy committee. Our results illuminate how individual legislators shape policymaking in party-centered environments.
    Keywords: political polarization, text analysis, penalized logistic regression
    JEL: D72
    Date: 2021
  5. By: Sorace, Miriam; Hobolt, Sara
    Abstract: Partisanship is a powerful driver of economic perceptions. Yet we know less about whether other political divisions may lead to similar evaluative biases. In this paper, we explore how the salient divide between "Remainers"and "Leavers"in the UK in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum has given rise to biased economic perceptions. In line with the cognitive dissonance framework, we argue that salient non-partisan divisions can change economic perceptions by triggering processes of self- and in-group justification. Using both nationally-representative observational and experimental survey data, we demonstrate that the perceptions of the economy are shaped by the Brexit divide and that these biases are exacerbated when respondents are reminded of Brexit. These findings indicate that perceptual biases are not always rooted in partisanship, but can be triggered by other political divisions.
    Keywords: perceptual bias; economic perceptions; accountability; referendums; Brexi
    JEL: N0
    Date: 2020–05–29
  6. By: Tyler Daun; Sebastian Galiani; Gustavo Torrens
    Abstract: Most populist regimes in Latin American countries used trade policy to redistribute income, despite being less efficient than other redistribution schemes such as transfers financed with an income tax. Often, this outcome is attributed to the lack of fiscal capacity in Latin American countries. Instead, we develop a simple political economy game where the populist government may use trade policy to encourage capitalists to invest in the more labor-intensive industry. Since moving capital is costly, those capitalists will support the continuation of the protectionist trade policy even after the populist government falls from power. The populist government may therefore choose to implement the less efficient but politically-sustainable policy instead of the more efficient policy that will be easily overturned after a regime change. Building fiscal capacity does not change the equilibrium. Only a long run commitment to a minimum level of redistribution restores efficiency.
    JEL: F13
    Date: 2021–01
  7. By: Afridi, Farzana; Dhillon, Amrita; Chaudhuri, Arka Roy; Kaur, Dashleen
    Abstract: In this paper we survey the recent literature on top down audits and community monitoring. While in the case of top down audits the efficacy of audits depends on the type of punishment- electoral punishment vs legal punishment, the literature finds that electoral punishment is less effective than legal punishment. Moreover, electoral punishment depends on whether voters are aware of audit reports. The type of service being audited - the opportunity for corruption and the clarity of rules and regulations effect the success of audits. However, even when top down audits succeed in cutting down corruption, they may not always lead to better outcomes. Social audits are effective when collective action problems are less salient e.g. when groups are homogeneous, when the design is such that community participants feel empowered e.g. through elections to the monitoring committee, information is not useful by itself unless accompanied by tools to influence outcomes, and finally there is not a clear map between finding corruption and improving ultimate outcomes. We suggest that a fertile area for future research is the design of optimal audit schemes that take account of the opportunities for corruption and the motivations of both the providers and the auditors.
    Date: 2020–12–25
  8. By: Rasmané Ouedraogo; Amadou N Sy
    Abstract: This paper studies the effect of digitalization on the perception of corruption and trust in tax officials in Africa. Using individual-level data from Afrobarometer surveys and several indices of digitalization, we find that an increase in digital adoption is associated with a reduction in the perception of corruption and an increase in trust in tax officials. Exploiting the exogeneous deployment of submarine cables at the local level, the paper provides evidence of a negative impact of the use of Internet on the perception of corruption. Yet, the paper shows that the dampening effect of digitalization on corruption is hindered in countries where the government has a pattern of intentionally shutting down the Internet, while countries that successfully promote information and communication technology (ICT) enjoy a more amplified effect.
    Keywords: Corruption;Digitalization;Public employment;Public financial management (PFM);Education;WP,tax official,online service,intentional disruption,DAI government,government action,simple average
    Date: 2020–05–29
  9. By: Heap, Shaun P. Hargreaves; Koop, Christel; Matakos, Konstantinos; Unan, Asli; Weber, Nina Sophie
    Abstract: The announcement of Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine success on 9 November 2020 led to a global stock market surge. But how did the general public respond to such good news? We report results of a nation-wide natural experiment in the US and the UK on how the vaccine news influenced citizens' government evaluations, anxiety, beliefs and elicited behaviors. While most outcomes were unaffected by the news, trust in government and elected politicians (and their competency) saw a significant decline in both countries. As the news did not concern the government, and the government did not have time to act on the news, our results suggest a dispositional response to positive news more likely to be explained by a form of the psychological mechanism of motivated reasoning. They also offer a novel insight regarding the association between trust in government and compliance with its policies: anxiety might explain both.
    Date: 2021–01–19
  10. By: Guilhem Cassan; Milan Van Steenvoort
    Abstract: The difference in COVID 19 death rates across political regimes has caught a lot of attention. The "efficient autocracy" view suggests that autocracies may be more efficient at putting in place policies that contain COVID 19 spread. On the other hand, the "biasing autocracy" view underlines that autocracies may be under reporting their COVID 19 data. We use fixed effect panel regression methods to discriminate between the two sides of the debate. Our results show that a third view may in fact be prevailing: once pre-determined characteristics of countries are accounted for, COVID 19 death rates equalize across political regimes. The difference in death rate across political regime seems therefore to be primarily due to omitted variable bias.
    Date: 2021–01
  11. By: Jeannette Hutton Pugh (Pepperdine University, USA)
    Abstract: This paper examines the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic from the viewpoint of African American leadership (and followership) as the coronavirus pandemic continues to prompt a shift towards a global paradigm in the face of a rising counter-paradigm of xenophobic nationalism and populism. The SPELIT model (Schmeider-Ramirez and Mallette, 2006) is leveraged to evaluate the varied perspectives of this complex issue from the lens of social, political, economic, legal, intercultural and technological factors. Ethnic inclusiveness is explored as well as the de-legitimation of existing global institutions. This research is intended to contribute to elevating the level of conscious awareness of any organization or individual seeking to understand the multiple viewpoints surrounding the societal impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic. The root causes of societal division and unrest are also examined and attributed to the virus of systemic racism which is referenced as COVID-401, reflective of the 401 years since the first African slaves arrived in the United States.
    Keywords: structural racism, restorative leadership
    Date: 2020–09
  12. By: Luna Bellani; Anselm Hager; Stephan E. Maurer
    Abstract: This paper documents the persistence of the Southern slave owning elite in political power after the end of the American Civil War. We draw on a database of Texan state legislators between 1860 and 1900 and link them to their or their ancestors' slaveholdings in 1860. We then show that former slave owners made up more than half of nearly each legislature's members until the late 1890s. Legislators with slave owning backgrounds differ systematically from those without, being more likely to represent the Democratic party and more likely to work in an agricultural occupation. Regional characteristics matter for this persistence, as counties with higher soil suitability for growing cotton on average elect more former slave owners.
    Keywords: Wealth inequality, elites and development, US south, intergenerational persistence, slavery
    JEL: D72 J62 N31 H4
    Date: 2020–08

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