nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2021‒08‒16
nine papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. Voting vs. non-voting in Senegal: A nested multinomial logit model approach By Henning, Christian H. C. A.; Diaz, Daniel; Petri, Svetlana
  2. How important are abstainers in presidential elections? A comparative analysis between Africa and Latin America By Henning, Christian H. C. A.; Diaz, Daniel; Lendewig, Andrea; Petri, Svetlana
  3. Promised land: settlement schemes in Kenya, 1962 to 2016 By Boone, Catherine; Lukalo, Fibian; Joireman, Sandra
  4. Changes in voter behavior after an information signal: An experimental approach for Senegal By Henning, Christian H. C. A.; Petri, Svetlana; Diaz, Daniel
  5. Do in-group biases lead to overconfidence in performance? Experimental evidence By Lia Q. Flores; Miguel A. Fonseca
  6. Stable Voting By Wesley H. Holliday; Eric Pacuit
  7. Pork, infrastructure and growth: Evidence from the Italian railway expansion By Roberto Bonfatti; Giovanni Facchini; Alexander Tarasov; Gian Luca Tedeschi; Cecilia Testa
  8. Creating Controversy in Proxy Voting Advice By Andrey Malenko; Nadya Malenko; Chester S. Spatt
  9. Optimal Tariffs and Trade Policy Formation: U.S. Evidence from the Smoot-Hawley Era By Douglas A. Irwin; Anson Soderbery

  1. By: Henning, Christian H. C. A.; Diaz, Daniel; Petri, Svetlana
    Abstract: In democratic systems, elections are considered a mechanism to ensure that efficient policies seeking the wellbeing of the population are implemented by the government, although the reality often reflects the opposite. Governments usually act inefficiently due to problems of government performance such as capture and low accountability. In the African continent, the republic of Senegal is considered an example of a stable democracy. Electoral processes in the country have been considered relatively fair. However, the decline in the voter turnout over the past elections suggests that the party system is failing to engage voters. This study assesses influencing factors both in voting behavior in Senegal and in the decision to abstain. We estimated nested multinomial logit models including the alternative Abstention to determine the importance of the non-voters group in the policy making process. We found that even though people in general make their decision more non-policy oriented, abstainers, compared to those who cast a vote, tend to choose more retrospectively oriented and less policy and nonpolicy oriented. Furthermore, our findings show that this group of non-voters hold the government more accountable and have a higher political weight for the incumbent party. Thus, they could incentive the government to choose and implement more efficient policies. [...]
    Keywords: probabilistic voter model,capture,accountability,agricultural policy,Senegal,Africa
    JEL: Q18 C31 C35 C38
    Date: 2020
  2. By: Henning, Christian H. C. A.; Diaz, Daniel; Lendewig, Andrea; Petri, Svetlana
    Abstract: Even in countries with well functioning democracies, not all people with the right to vote in a presidential election decide to cast a vote. In order to study the importance of abstention in presidential elections in Africa and Latin America, data from Senegal and Honduras was analyzed. These countries have experienced a decline in the voter turnout over the past elections, which means that the party systems are somehow failing to engage voters in recent years. The purpose of this paper is to understand how people choose a certain party or candidate, as well as, how they decide to either vote or abstain. Moreover, we are looking to determine whether non-voters could motivate the governments to design and implement efficient policies. To achieve this, we estimated nested multinomial logit models including the alternative Abstention. Then, to evaluate government performance, we derived indicators for accountability and capture. Also, to determine the optimal policy positions for the governmental parties, First Order Condition (FOC) and Second Order Condition (SOC) were estimated for different issues.
    Keywords: probabilistic voter model,capture,accountability,agricultural policy,Africa,Latin America
    JEL: Q18 C31 C35 C38
    Date: 2020
  3. By: Boone, Catherine; Lukalo, Fibian; Joireman, Sandra
    Abstract: Smallholder settlement schemes have played a prominent role in Kenya's contested history of state-building, land politics, and electoral mobilization. This paper presents the first georeferenced dataset documenting scheme location, boundaries, and attributes of Kenya's 533 official settlement schemes, as well as the first systematic data on scheme creation since 1980. The data show that almost half of all government schemes were created after 1980, as official rural development rationales for state-sponsored settlement gave way to more explicitly welfarist and electoralist objectives. Even so, logics of state territorialization to fix ethnicized, partisan constituencies to state-defined territorial units pervade the history of scheme creation over the entire 1962–2016 period, as theorized in classic political geography works on state territorialization. While these “geopolitics” of regime construction are fueled by patronage politics, they also sustain practices of land allocation that affirm the moral and political legitimacy of grievance-backed claims for land. This fuels on-going contestation around political representation and acute, if socially-fragmented, demands for state-recognition of land rights. Our findings are consistent with recent political geography and interdisciplinary work on rural peoples' demands for state recognition of land rights and access to natural resources. Kenya's history of settlement scheme creation shows that even in the country's core agricultural districts, where the reach of formal state authority is undisputed, the territorial politics of power-consolidation and resource allocation continues to be shaped by social demands and pressures from below.
    Keywords: Kenya; territorial politics; resettlement; political economy; land policy; ES/R005753/1; UKRI block grant
    JEL: R14 J01
    Date: 2021–08
  4. By: Henning, Christian H. C. A.; Petri, Svetlana; Diaz, Daniel
    Abstract: Electoral competition is considered a control mechanism to guarantee a good performance of the government. However, in real life it often leads to a distorted policy implementation due to Government Capture and low Government Accountability. Therefore, the analysis of voter behavior is a key factor to understand government performance. More specifically, if voters choose more policy and retrospectively oriented, the government has greater incentives to implement efficient policies. In this sense, if voters have more information on politics, they are more likely to base their decision on policy issues. To assess changes in voter behavior, we carried out a political experiment, where information about the performance of the Senegalese government was delivered to a randomly selected group of voters. Then, based on election surveys data collected before and after the information signal, a probabilistic voter model with latent class using a panel data set was developed. Additionally, to evaluate changes in the relative importance of the three voting motives (policy, non-policy and retrospective), marginal effects and relative marginal effects were estimated. As expected, after the information signal, the relative importance of the policy and the retrospective components increased significantly. [...]
    Keywords: probabilistic voter model,capture,accountability,agricultural policy,Senegal,Africa
    JEL: Q18 C33 C35 C38
    Date: 2020
  5. By: Lia Q. Flores (School of Economics and Management, University of Porto); Miguel A. Fonseca (Department of Economics, University of Exeter)
    Abstract: Psychologists have long identified the tendency of humans to overestimate their skill relative to their peers (overplacement). We investigate whether this phenomenon is exacerbated by group affiliation: social identity theory predicts people evaluate in-group members more positively than out-group members, and we hypothesized that this differential treatment may result in greater overplacement when interacting with an out-group member. We tested this hypothesis with 301 US voters affiliated with either the Republican or Democratic party in the run-up to the 2020 Presidential election, a time when political identities were salient and highly polarized. We found there is a higher tendency for overplacement when faced with an out-group opponent than with an in-group opponent. Decomposition analysis suggests this difference is due to underestimating the opponent, as opposed to overestimating one's own performance to a higher degree. Moreover, any tendency to incur in overplacement is mitigated when faced with an opponent with the same political-identity relative to one with a neutral one. While group affiliation biases initial priors, such effect is unchanged when participants are asked to update their beliefs.
    Keywords: overconfidence, belief updating, motivated beliefs, overplacement, social identity, political affiliation, competition
    JEL: D18 D91 Z1 C9
    Date: 2021–08–03
  6. By: Wesley H. Holliday; Eric Pacuit
    Abstract: In this paper, we propose a new single-winner voting system using ranked ballots: Stable Voting. The motivating principle of Stable Voting is that if a candidate A would win without another candidate B in the election, and A beats B in a head-to-head majority comparison, then A should still win in the election with B included (unless there is another candidate A' who has the same kind of claim to winning, in which case a tiebreaker may choose between A and A'). We call this principle Stability for Winners (with Tiebreaking). Stable Voting satisfies this principle while also having a remarkable ability to avoid tied outcomes in elections even with small numbers of voters.
    Date: 2021–08
  7. By: Roberto Bonfatti; Giovanni Facchini; Alexander Tarasov; Gian Luca Tedeschi; Cecilia Testa
    Abstract: This paper studies the role played by politics in shaping the Italian railway network, and its impact on long-run growth patterns. Examining a large state-planned railway expansion that took place during the second half of the 19th century in a recently unified country, we first study how both national and local political processes shaped the planned railway construction. Exploiting close elections, we show that a state-funded railway line is more likely to be planned for construction where the local representative is aligned with the government. Furthermore, the actual path followed by the railways was shaped by local pork-barreling, with towns supporting winning candidates more likely to see a railway crossing their territory. Finally, we explore the long-run effects of the network expansion on economic development. Employing population and economic censuses for the entire 20th century, we show that politics at a critical junction played a key role in explaning the long-run evolution of local economies.
    Keywords: Infractural Development, Political Economy
    Date: 2021
  8. By: Andrey Malenko; Nadya Malenko; Chester S. Spatt
    Abstract: The quality of proxy advisors' voting recommendations is important for policymakers and industry participants. We analyze the design of recommendations (available to all market participants) and research reports (available only to subscribers) by a proxy advisor, whose objective is to maximize its profits from selling information to shareholders. We show that even if all shareholders’ interests are aligned and aim at maximizing firm value, the proxy advisor benefits from biasing its recommendations against the a priori more likely alternative. Such recommendations “create controversy” about the vote, increasing the probability that the outcome is close and raising each shareholder's willingness to pay for advice. In contrast, it serves the interest of the proxy advisor to make private research reports unbiased and precise. Our results help reinterpret empirical patterns of shareholders’ voting behavior.
    JEL: D72 D82 D83 G34 K22
    Date: 2021–07
  9. By: Douglas A. Irwin; Anson Soderbery
    Abstract: This paper examines the political economy of U.S. trade policy around the time of the Smoot-Hawley tariff of 1930, a period when policy was unconstrained by trade agreements. We consider a model of politically-optimal trade policy for a large country that can influence its terms of trade and where workers and firms lobby for protection. The predictions of the model hinge on import demand and export supply elasticities, which we estimate using detailed U.S. import data from 1927-35, as well as industry lobbying data. We find that tariff levels are largely determined by firm lobbies, but about about 5 percentage points of the tariffs are explained by terms of trade considerations. Decomposing the politically-optimal tariff in 1931 reveals an intensification of demand for protection by workers in the Smoot-Hawley tariff.
    JEL: F13 F14
    Date: 2021–07

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