nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2021‒04‒26
fifteen papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. Unusual electoral systems and political hegemony. Evidence from the argentine subnational districts By José J. Bercoff; Osvaldo Meloni; Juan Manuel Tabuenca
  2. Immigration and electoral outcomes: Evidence from the 2015 refugee inflow to Germany By Bredtmann, Julia
  3. Ideology and Performance in Public Organizations By Jorg L. Spenkuch; Edoardo Teso; Guo Xu
  4. Turnout in Concurrent Elections : Evidence from Two Quasi-Experiments in Italy By Cantoni, Enrico; Gazzè, Ludovica; Schafer, Jerome
  5. Why Corporate Political Connections Can Impede Investment By Kubinec, Robert; Lee, Haillie Na-Kyung; Tomashevskiy, Andrey
  6. The Costs of Hyperinflation: Germany 1923 By Gregori Galofre-Vila
  7. Minority Turnout and Representation under Cumulative Voting. An Experiment. By Alessandra Casella; Jeffrey Guo; Michelle Jiang
  8. The Political Scar of Epidemics By Barry Eichengreen; Orkun Saka; Cevat Giray Aksoy
  9. "Good Politicians'': Experimental Evidence on Motivations for Political Candidacy and Government Performance By Gulzar, Saad; Khan, Muhammad Yasir
  10. Does Public Campaign Funding Crowd Out Private Donation Activity? Evidence from Seattle's Democracy Voucher Program By Griffith, Alan; Noonen, Thomas
  11. Terrorism and Political Attitudes: Evidence from European Social Surveys By Giovanni Peri; Daniel I. Rees; Brock Smith
  12. Persuading with Anecdotes By Nika Haghtalab; Nicole Immorlica; Brendan Lucier; Markus Mobius; Divyarthi Mohan
  13. Candidate Filtering: The Strategic Use of Electoral Fraud in Russia By David Szakonyi
  14. Worst Case in Voting and Bargaining By Anna Bogomolnaia; Ron Holzman; Hervé Moulin
  15. Voting Agendas and Preferences on Trees: Theory and Practice By Andreas Kleiner; Benny Moldovanu

  1. By: José J. Bercoff; Osvaldo Meloni; Juan Manuel Tabuenca
    Abstract: A few years after the democracy was restored in 1983, Argentina has witnessed one of the most intense periods of political reforms with the proclaimed objective of modernizing the electoral system and extended political rights to province’s constituencies. Reforms included various critical items such as modifications in the electoral system which ended up changing the political game. This paper provides empirical evidence on the role played by the Double Simultaneous Voting System (DSVS), that performs simultaneously primaries and general elections, and its variations, grouped under the heading of Apparentment lists (ALs), that includes the so –called “Colectoras”, “Acoples” and “Adhesiones”, on the political competition of subnational districts for the period 1987 – 2015. DSVS was in force in 14.5% of the gubernatorial, 20.6% of the legislative and 23.8% of the mayoral elections. Likewise, the ALs were used in 33.9% of local legislative elections. Results from a panel data of eight gubernatorial elections and all 24 subnational jurisdictions show that DSVS and ALs diminish the effective number of parties, increase the margin of victory of the incumbent party and diminish the probability of party alternation and improve the probability of reelection of the incumbent governor.
    Keywords: Political competition; electoral systems; subnational politics; Argentina
    JEL: D72 P16
    Date: 2020–11
  2. By: Bredtmann, Julia
    Abstract: This paper investigates the effects of the 2015 mass inflow of refugees to Germany on electoral outcomes. Specifically, using unique data on refugee populations and their type of accommodation, I analyze how local exposure to refugees affects the outcomes of the March 2016 state election - an election that was characterized by a strong surge in the electoral success of right-wing parties. For identification, I exploit quasi-random variation in the allocation of refugees across municipalities. The results show that an increase in the population share of refugees increases the vote share of right-wing parties and decreases the vote share of the incumbent federal government parties. The electoral effects, however, are solely driven by refugees living in centralized accommodation, and particularly by municipalities that host reception centers for refugees. These findings have important implications for the design of public policies in handling future receptions of refugees, as they reveal that an earlier transfer of refugees from centralized to decentralized accommodation could attenuate a growing support for right-wing parties.
    Keywords: Immigration,refugees,political economy,voting
    JEL: D72 F22 J15 R23
    Date: 2020
  3. By: Jorg L. Spenkuch; Edoardo Teso; Guo Xu
    Abstract: We combine personnel records of the United States federal bureaucracy from 1997-2019 with administrative voter registration data to study how ideological alignment between politicians and bureaucrats affects the personnel policies and performance of public organizations. We present four results. (i) Consistent with the use of the spoils system to align ideology at the highest levels of government, we document significant partisan cycles and substantial turnover among political appointees. (ii) By contrast, we find virtually no political cycles in the civil service. The lower levels of the federal government resemble a "Weberian" bureaucracy that appears to be largely protected from political interference. (iii) Democrats make up the plurality of civil servants. Overrepresentation of Democrats increases with seniority, with the difference in career progression being largely explained by positive selection on observables. (iv) Political misalignment carries a sizeable performance penalty. Exploiting presidential transitions as a source of "within-bureaucrat" variation in the political alignment of procurement officers over time, we find that contracts overseen by a misaligned officer exhibit cost overruns that are, on average, 8% higher than the mean overrun. We provide evidence that is consistent with a general "morale effect," whereby misaligned bureaucrats are less motivated.
    JEL: D73 H57 M5
    Date: 2021–04
  4. By: Cantoni, Enrico (University of Bologna); Gazzè, Ludovica (University of Warwick); Schafer, Jerome (University of Munich)
    Abstract: We study the effects of different types of concurrent elections using individual-level administrative and survey data from Italy. Exploiting different voting ages for the two Houses of Parliament in a voter-level Regression Discontinuity Design, we find no effect of Senate voting eligibility on voter turnout or information acquisition. We also estimate city-level Differences-in-Differences showing that concurrent high-salience municipal elections increase turnout in lower-salience provincial and European elections, but not vice-versa. These concurrency effects are concentrated in municipalities in the South of Italy, possibly due to weaker political parties and lower levels of social capital.
    Keywords: turnout ; concurrent elections ; regression discontinuity design ; Italy.
    Date: 2021
  5. By: Kubinec, Robert (Princeton University); Lee, Haillie Na-Kyung; Tomashevskiy, Andrey
    Abstract: We present an experiment that manipulates corporate political connections to understand whether a company's political influence is a barrier or an inducement to intercorporate investment. Our data come from a survey of 3,329 firm employees and managers located in Venezuela, Ukraine and Egypt. On the whole we find that our respondents do not prefer to invest in companies with political connections. These results are highly conditional on the respondent's company: respondents from highly connected companies prefer to invest in companies with political connections, while respondents at less-connected companies prefer to invest in companies without political connections. We believe that what explains this finding are differences in how companies with and without connections manage liability as our survey data shows connected companies are much more likely to employ informal rather than formal mechanisms to resolve disputes. As a result, we believe that unconnected companies are more likely to invest in other unconnected companies to ensure that their property rights are protected.
    Date: 2021–04–21
  6. By: Gregori Galofre-Vila (Departamento de Economia - UPNA)
    Abstract: I study the link between monetary policy and populism by looking at the hyperinflation in Germany in 1923, one of the worst spells of inflation in history, and the Nazi electoral boost in 1933. Contrary to received wisdom, inflation data for over 500 cities show that areas more affected by inflation did not see a higher vote share for the Nazi party in each and every German federal election between 1924 and 1933. Yet, the inflation does predict the vote share of the Volksrechtspartei, an association-turned-party of inflation victims, and the vote share of the Social Democrats. In places where hyper-inflation was higher, mortality and anti-Semitism also increased. Unobservables are unlikely to account for these results.
    Date: 2021
  7. By: Alessandra Casella; Jeffrey Guo; Michelle Jiang
    Abstract: Under majoritarian election systems, securing participation and representation of minorities remains an open problem, made salient in the US by its history of voter suppression. One remedy recommended by the courts is Cumulative Voting (CV): each voter has as many votes as open positions and can cumulate votes on as few candidates as desired. Theory predicts that CV encourages the minority to overcome obstacles to voting: although each voter is treated equally, CV increases minority's turnout relative to the majority, and the minority's share of seats won. A lab experiment based on a costly voting design strongly supports both predictions.
    JEL: C92 D7 D72 K16
    Date: 2021–04
  8. By: Barry Eichengreen; Orkun Saka; Cevat Giray Aksoy
    Abstract: What political legacy is bequeathed by national health crises such as epidemics? We show that epidemic exposure in an individual’s “impressionable years” (ages 18 to 25) has a persistent negative effect on confidence in political institutions and leaders. The effect is specific to the impressionable ages, observed only for political institutions and leaders, and does not carry over to other institutions and individuals with one key exception. That exception is strong negative effects on confidence in public health systems, suggesting that the loss of confidence in political institutions and leaders is associated with the (in)effectiveness of a government’s healthcare-related responses to past epidemics. We document this mechanism, showing that weak governments took longer to introduce policy interventions in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, and demonstrating that the loss of political trust is larger for individuals who experienced epidemics under weak governments. Finally, we report evidence suggesting that the epidemic-induced loss of political trust may discourage electoral participation in the long term.
    Keywords: epidemics, trust, political approval
    JEL: D72 F50 I19
    Date: 2021
  9. By: Gulzar, Saad; Khan, Muhammad Yasir
    Abstract: How can we motivate `good' politicians -- those that will carry out policy that is responsive to citizens' preferences -- to enter politics? In a field experiment in Pakistan, we vary how political office is portrayed to ordinary citizens. We find that emphasizing pro-social motives for holding political office instead of personal returns -- such as the ability to help others versus enhancing one's own respect and status -- raises the likelihood that individuals run for office and that voters elect them. It also better aligns subsequent policies with citizens' preferences. The candidacy decisions are explained by social influence, and not information salience -- we find that social versus personal messaging matters only when randomly delivered in a public setting but not in private. Results also show that changes in political supply, not citizen preferences or behavior, explain policy alignment. Taken together, the results demonstrate that non-financial motivations for political entry shape how politicians perform in office.
    Date: 2021–04–15
  10. By: Griffith, Alan; Noonen, Thomas
    Abstract: During each election cycle, the city of Seattle distributes four \$25 vouchers to every registered voter, which may be donated to and redeemed by campaigns for city office. Through a difference-in-differences research design, we study the causal effect of Seattle's program on various outcomes in city council elections in the first two cycles after implementation, with two comparison groups drawn from other cities in Washington and California. We find that the program led to an approximately 62-100% increase in total contributions and a 400% increase in number of unique donors. The effects on dollars and donors are entirely driven by small donors, defined as those who contribute less than $200 to a campaign. We find statistically insignificant evidence of decreases in private donations, although our point estimates suggest moderate-to-substantial crowd-out ratios. We further show that the program led to a 76-86% increase in candidates for city council. These results provide some of the first causal evidence on the effect of decentralized public campaign finance schemes, while also speaking to broader questions measuring the effects of money in politics, campaign regulation, and the effects of public funds on private giving.
    Date: 2021–04–21
  11. By: Giovanni Peri; Daniel I. Rees; Brock Smith
    Abstract: Since the turn of the last century, nationalistic political parties have been gaining support in Europe. Over the same period, terror attacks have increased. Using data from European Social Surveys (ESS), we examine the effects of terror attacks involving at least one fatality on attitudes towards immigrants and government institutions. Comparing within-country responses to the ESS shortly before and after fatal terror attacks, we find little evidence of a shift in attitudes against immigrants. Consistent with “rally-around-the flag” effects documented by political scientists, ESS respondents living in the region that was attacked tend to express more trust in parliament and more satisfaction with the national government in the post- as compared to the pre-attack period. Similarly, we find evidence that particularly salient terror attacks can produce nationwide rally-around-the-flag effects.
    JEL: H56
    Date: 2021–04
  12. By: Nika Haghtalab; Nicole Immorlica; Brendan Lucier; Markus Mobius; Divyarthi Mohan
    Abstract: We study a model of social learning and communication using hard anecdotal evidence. There are two Bayesian agents (a sender and a receiver) who wish to communicate. The receiver must take an action whose payoff depends on their personal preferences and an unknown state of the world. The sender has access to a collection of n samples correlated with the state of the world, which we think of as specific anecdotes or pieces of evidence, and can send exactly one of these samples to the receiver in order to influence her choice of action. Importantly, the sender's personal preferences may differ from the receiver's, which affects the seller's strategic choice of which anecdote to send. We show that if the sender's communication scheme is observable to the receiver (that is, the choice of which anecdote to send given the set they receive), then they will choose an unbiased and maximally informative communication scheme, no matter the difference in preferences. Without observability, however, even a small difference in preferences can lead to a significant bias in the choice of anecdote, which the receiver must then account for. This can significantly reduce the informativeness of the signal, leading to substantial utility loss for both sides. One implication is informational homophily: a receiver can rationally prefer to obtain information from a poorly-informed sender with aligned preferences, rather than a knowledgeable expert whose preferences may differ from her own.
    JEL: G4
    Date: 2021–04
  13. By: David Szakonyi (George Washington University)
    Abstract: Incumbents have many tools to tip elections in their favor, yet we know little about how they choose between strategies. By comparing various tactics, this paper argues that electoral malpractice centered on manipulating institutions offers the greatest effectiveness while shielding incumbents from public anger and criminal prosecution. To demonstrate this, I focus on one widespread institutional tactic: preventing candidates from accessing the ballot. First, in survey experiments, Russian voters respond less negatively to institutional manipulations, such as rejecting candidates, than to blatant fraud, such as ballot-box stuffing. Next, using evidence from 25,935 Russian mayoral races, I show that lower societal and implementation costs enable incumbents to strategically reject candidacies from credible challengers and then reduce their electoral vulnerability. In all, the technology behind specific manipulations helps determine when and how incumbents violate electoral integrity.
    Keywords: electoral fraud, authoritarianism, Russia, public opinion
    JEL: D7 H40
    Date: 2020
  14. By: Anna Bogomolnaia (CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, University of Glasgow, HSE St Petersburg - Higher School of Economics - St Petersburg); Ron Holzman (Technion - Israel Institute of Technology [Haifa]); Hervé Moulin (University of Glasgow, HSE St Petersburg - Higher School of Economics - St Petersburg)
    Abstract: The guarantee of an anonymous mechanism is the worst case welfare an agent can secure against unanimously adversarial others. How high can such a guarantee be, and what type of mechanism achieves it?. We address the worst case design question in the n-person probabilistic voting/bargaining model with p deterministic outcomes. If n superior or equal to p the uniform lottery is the only maximal (unimprovable) guarantee; there are many more if p>n, in particular the ones inspired by the random dictator mechanism and by voting by veto. If n=2 the maximal set M(n,p) is a simple polytope where each vertex combines a round of vetoes with one of random dictatorship. For p>n superior or egal to 3, writing d=[((p-1)/n)], we show that the duak veto and random dictator guarantees, together with the uniform one, are the building blocks of 2^{d} simplices of dimension d in M(n,p). Their vertices are guarantees easy to interpret and implement. The set M(n,p) may contain other guarantees as well; what we can say in full generality is that it is a finite union of polytopes, all sharing the uniform guarantee.
    Keywords: worst case,guarantees,voting by veto,random dictator
    Date: 2021–04
  15. By: Andreas Kleiner; Benny Moldovanu
    Abstract: We study how parliaments and committees select one out of several alternatives when options cannot be ordered along a "left-right" axis. Which voting agendas are used in practice, and how should they be designed? We assume preferences are single-peaked on a tree and study convex agendas where, at each stage in the voting process, the tree of remaining alternatives is divided into two subtrees that are subjected to a Yes-No vote. We show that strategic voting coincides with sincere, unsophisticated voting. Based on inference results and revealed preference arguments, we illustrate the empirical implications for two case studies.
    JEL: D71 D72
    Date: 2021–04

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