nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2021‒04‒12
eight papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. Another Brick in the Wall. Immigration and Electoral Preferences: Direct Evidence from State Ballots By Bargain, Olivier; Stephane, Victor; Valette, Jérôme
  2. Cloturing Deliberation By Vincent Anesi; Mikhail Safronov
  3. Local David Versus Global Goliath: Populist Parties and the Decline of Progressive Politics in Italy By Matteo Cavallaro
  4. Inequality, Identity, and Partisanship: How redistribution can stem the tide of mass polarization By Alexander J. Stewart; Joshua B. Plotkin; Nolan McCarty
  5. Elections and selfishness By Bjorvatn, K; Galle, S; Berge, LIO; Miguel, E; Posner, DN; Tungodden, B; Zhang, K
  6. Political Agency and Legislative Subsidies with Imperfect Monitoring By Blumenthal, Benjamin
  7. Towards Principled Unskewing: Viewing 2020 Election Polls Through a Corrective Lens from 2016 By Isakov, Michael; Kuriwaki, Shiro
  8. Leaders’ Foreign Travel and Democracy By Kodila-Tedika, Oasis; Khalifa, Sherif

  1. By: Bargain, Olivier (University of Aix-Marseille II); Stephane, Victor (GATE, University of Lyon); Valette, Jérôme (CES, University of Paris)
    Abstract: Using information on actual ballots rather than survey data, we investigate the impact of immigration on both electoral outcomes and immigrant-related motives underlying political preferences. We take advantage of 94 votes, namely 54 policy propositions and 40 elections for candidates, that took place in Californian general elections between 2010 and 2018. We first analyze how the share of immigrants at the census tract level affects electoral outcomes. We find that a rise in immigration is associated with a decrease in people's support for the Democratic party and for liberal measures. Using proposition topics, we show that this effect is driven by policies pertaining to redistribution, public good provision and justice/crime, while other propositions, less directly related to immigration are not impacted. The effect is stronger when immigrants are less assimilated and originate from poor and culturally distant countries.
    Keywords: immigration, electoral outcomes
    JEL: F22 D31
    Date: 2021–03
  2. By: Vincent Anesi (Department of Economics and Management, Université du Luxembourg); Mikhail Safronov (University of Cambridge, UK)
    Abstract: We study how the institutional arrangements for ending deliberation - the “cloture Rules” - interact with collective learning to affect the outcomes of decision making in committees. In contrast to much of the previous literature on deliberative commit- tees, this paper makes a distinction between the final votes over policy proposals and the cloture votes that bring them about. Using this approach, we explore how clo- ture rules influence the course of deliberation, the likelihood of inefficient deliberative outcomes, the circumstances surrounding failures to bring proposals to a final vote, and the distribution of power among committee members in the deliberative process. We also use our simple model to examine the issue of the stability of cloture rules, characterizing the rules that no coalition of committee members is able or willing to overturn. We show in particular that all cloture rules are dynamically stable.
    Keywords: Cloture, deliberation, obstruction, pivots, political failure, stability, voting.
    JEL: D02 D71 D72 D83
    Date: 2021
  3. By: Matteo Cavallaro (University of Lausanne)
    Abstract: This paper analyzes the role of local spending, particularly on social welfare, and local inequality as factors in the Italian political crisis following the adoption in 2011 of more radical national austerity measures. We employ two different methods. First, we develop an original database of municipal budgets. There we show that even the lowest level of social welfare spending, that offered by Italian municipalities, though also hit by austerity, was still able to moderate this national shock. We test three operationalizations of local spending: aggregate current expenditures, aggregate current expenditures on social services, and current expenditures disaggregated by function. We show that municipal current expenditures, particularly on social spending, significantly affected the post-2011 share of votes for the progressive coalition. The results also show that social spending, especially on education, significantly moderated the combined effect of national austerity and the economic crisis on voting for populist radical right parties, while no significant results appeared for populist parties in general. Local inequality appears to significantly enhance vote shares of populist radical right parties and populist parties in general. We caution that, although significant, the effect is not strong: that local policy and economic conditions can moderate national shocks but cannot reverse them. The second analysis relies on survey data to ascertain the individual-level mechanisms behind the role of local welfare. The paper argues that local economic inputs influence voters’ position on non-economic issues. Our results, however, do not identify any significant individual-level channel of transmission, be it cultural or economic.
    Keywords: populism, austerity, political change, elections, inequality and distribution
    JEL: D72 H72 P16
    Date: 2021–01–09
  4. By: Alexander J. Stewart; Joshua B. Plotkin; Nolan McCarty
    Abstract: The form of political polarization where citizens develop strongly negative attitudes towards out-party policies and members has become increasingly prominent across many democracies. Economic hardship and social inequality, as well as inter-group and racial conflict, have been identified as important contributing factors to this phenomenon known as "affective polarization." Such partisan animosities are exacerbated when these interests and identities become aligned with existing party cleavages. In this paper we use a model of cultural evolution to study how these forces combine to generate and maintain affective political polarization. We show that economic events can drive both affective polarization and sorting of group identities along party lines, which in turn can magnify the effects of underlying inequality between those groups. But on a more optimistic note, we show that sufficiently high levels of wealth redistribution through the provision of public goods can counteract this feedback and limit the rise of polarization. We test some of our key theoretical predictions using survey data on inter-group polarization, sorting of racial groups and affective polarization in the United States over the past 50 years.
    Date: 2021–03
  5. By: Bjorvatn, K; Galle, S; Berge, LIO; Miguel, E; Posner, DN; Tungodden, B; Zhang, K
    Abstract: Elections affect the division of resources in society and are occasions for political elites to make appeals rooted in voters' self-interest. Hence, elections may erode altruistic norms and cause people to behave more selfishly. We test this intuition using Dictator Games in a lab-in-the-field experiment involving a sample of more than 1000 individuals in Kenya and Tanzania. We adopt two approaches. First, we experimentally prime participants to think about the upcoming or most recent elections and find that this priming treatment reduces how much money participants are willing to give to other players. Second, we compare results obtained across lab rounds in Kenya taking place right before the country's 2013 national elections and eight months prior, and find that selfishness is greater in the lab round more proximate to the election. Our results suggest that elections may affect social behavior in important—and previously unrecognized—ways.
    Keywords: Elections, Altruism, Dictator Game, Clientelism, East-Africa, Africa, Clientelism Kenya, Tanzania, Selfishness, Kenya, Political Science, Political Science & Public Administration
    Date: 2021–02–01
  6. By: Blumenthal, Benjamin
    Abstract: Politicians are expected to implement projects that benefit their constituents. These projects’ benefits sometimes partially accrue to interest groups and not entirely to voters. Since these projects are costly to implement, this provides an incentive for interest groups to intervene in the policy-making process by offering legislative subsidies to politicians. In addition, voters are frequently ill-equipped to scrutinise politicians’ actions and can often only imperfectly monitor them. This paper shows how these considerations interact in a stylised two-periods political agency model with moral hazard and adverse selection. I show how and when voters benefit from the existence of self-interested interest groups and of their involvement in the policy-making process. I also consider how voters monitor politicians in the presence of interest groups that might capture projects’ benefits.
    Date: 2021–04–05
  7. By: Isakov, Michael; Kuriwaki, Shiro (Harvard University)
    Abstract: We apply the concept of the data defect index to study the potential impact of systematic errors on the 2020 pre-election polls in 12 presidential battleground states. We investigate the impact under the hypothetical scenarios that (1) the magnitude of the underlying nonresponse bias correlated with supporting Donald Trump is similar to that of the 2016 polls, (2) the pollsters’ ability to correct systematic errors via weighting has not improved significantly, and (3) turnout levels remain similar to 2016. Because survey weights are crucial for our investigations but are often not released, we adopt two approximate methods under different modeling assumptions. Under these scenarios, which may be far from reality, our models shift Trump’s estimated two-party voteshare by a percentage point in his favor in the median battleground state, and increases twofold the uncertainty around the voteshare estimate.
    Date: 2020–11–03
  8. By: Kodila-Tedika, Oasis; Khalifa, Sherif
    Abstract: This paper examines whether the number of trips by a country's leader to the United States allows the country to adopt a more democratic system of governance and to embrace better democratic practices. To achieve its objective, the paper introduces a novel variable that indicates the number of trips by a leader or a head of a government to the United States of America from 1960-2015. The paper uses Panel estimation techniques to examine the effect of this variable on the Polity score and the Freedom House democracy indicator. The results show that the leader’s trips have a statistically significant and positive effect on democracy, especially during the cold war era. This is case using alternative econometric techniques and different democracy indicators. The results are also robust to the exclusion of observations and countries where the democracy score is higher than that of the United States. The paper also uses alternative techniques to deal with potential endogeneity and the possible persistence in democracy. The estimation provides evidence for a high level of persistence in democracy and confirms our previous findings that leader’s trips have a statistically significant positive effect on democracy.
    Keywords: Executive, Democracy, Leader Foreign Travel
    JEL: D72 H11
    Date: 2020–02–13

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