nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2021‒10‒04
eight papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. Why Does Education Increase Voting? Evidence from Boston’s Charter Schools By Sarah Cohodes; James J. Feigenbaum
  2. The Evolution of Popular Politics in Nineteenth Century Sweden and the Road from Oligarchy to Democracy By Bengtsson, Erik
  3. Formalizing clientelism in Kenya: From Harambee to the Constituency Development Fund By Ken Ochieng' Opalo
  4. Gender differences in re-contesting decisions: New evidence from French municipal elections By Julieta Peveri; Marc Sangnier
  5. Legislative Capacity and Credit Risk By Fortunato, David; Turner, Ian R
  6. Tunisian democracy 10 years after the revolution: A tale of two experiences By Chomiak, Laryssa
  7. Does Political Partisanship Cross Borders? Evidence from International Capital Flows By Elisabeth Kempf; Mancy Luo; Larissa Schäfer; Margarita Tsoutsoura
  8. Lobbying Influence -- The Role of Money, Strategies and Measurements By Fintan Oeri; Adrian Rinscheid; Aya Kachi

  1. By: Sarah Cohodes; James J. Feigenbaum
    Abstract: In the United States, people with more education vote more. But, we know little about why education increases political participation or whether higher-quality education increases civic participation. We study applicants to Boston charter schools, using school lotteries to estimate charter attendance impacts for academic and voting outcomes. First, we confirm large academic gains for students in the sample of charter schools and cohorts investigated here. Second, we find that charter attendance boosts voter participation. Voting in the first presidential election after a student turns 18 increased substantially, by six percentage points from a base of 35 percent. The voting effect is driven entirely by girls and there is no increase in voter registration. Rich data and the differential effects by gender enable exploration of multiple potential channels for the voting impact. We find evidence consistent with two mechanisms: charter schools increase voting by increasing students’ noncognitive skills and by politicizing families who participate in charter school education.
    JEL: D72 H75 I21
    Date: 2021–09
  2. By: Bengtsson, Erik (Department of Economic History, Lund University)
    Abstract: In the mid-twentieth century, Sweden distinguished itself as one of the most organized and participatory democracies in the world, with high levels of voting turnout and party membership. But in the late nineteenth century the situation was much the opposite – Sweden had for Western Europe a low degree of suffrage, and low political participation. To explain the turnaround, this paper explores extra-parliamentary political activity in the period of the very exclusive two-chamber system of 1866. The contribution of the paper is to explore and describe the evolution of political meetings in Sweden in the final third of the nineteenth century and in this way provide an analysis of the evolution of a democratic political culture, which widened the scope of those who could act and participate politically. The empirical material consists of digitalized newspapers from the south of Sweden in the period 1866 to 1900, studying about 2,700 articles that mention “popular meetings”, folkmöten, which was the contemporary description of political meetings. The findings highlight the existence of a farmer-centred democratic critique in the 1860s and 1870s, which combined proposals for widened suffrage locally and nationally with criticisms of banks and the bureaucracy. In the1880s and 1890s, the social base of the folkmöten widened as urban workers – socialist and anti-socialist – took a greater part, and the ideological composition of the meetings became more heterogeneous. The systematic investigation of newspaper coverage shows that folkmöten were numerous and involved large numbers of people. This indicates that the Swedish population was more politically active than one would infer from looking at the electoral participation, which captures only the activity of the enfranchised, a minority of the population. The folkmöten was a major arena for democratic socialization in a country with an oligarchical political system.
    Keywords: democratization; Sweden; democracy; political history; political participation
    JEL: N13 N43 N93
    Date: 2021–09–06
  3. By: Ken Ochieng' Opalo
    Abstract: Why does clientelism persist? What determines how politicians signal responsiveness or fulfil their campaign promises? Existing works assume that politicians choose the most successful means of winning votes—either through targeted patronage/clientelism or programmatic policies. However, the empirical record shows high levels of persistence of the nature of the relationship between voters and politicians. Both politicians and voters are not always able to unilaterally change what campaign promises are achievable and therefore deemed credible.
    Keywords: Politics, Kenya, Clientelism, Politician, Voting behaviour, Reforms
    Date: 2021
  4. By: Julieta Peveri (AMSE - Aix-Marseille Sciences Economiques - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - AMU - Aix Marseille Université - ECM - École Centrale de Marseille - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique); Marc Sangnier (UNamur - Université de Namur [Namur], AMSE - Aix-Marseille Sciences Economiques - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - AMU - Aix Marseille Université - ECM - École Centrale de Marseille - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)
    Abstract: This paper studies differences across genders in the re-contesting decisions of politicians following electoral wins or defeats. Using close races in mixed-gender French local elections, we show that women are less likely to persist in competition when they lose compared to male runners-up, but are equally or more prone than male winners to re-contest when they win. Differences in observable characteristics or in the expected electoral returns of running again cannot fully account for these gender gaps in persistence. In contrast, the heterogeneity of the results across political ideology, age, experience and occupation suggests that behavioural explanations are at play. Additionally, we provide evidence that a woman's victory encourages former female challengers to re-contest but does not trigger the entry of new female candidates.
    Keywords: Gender,Competition,Persistence,Candidates,Self-selection,Elections
    Date: 2021–09
  5. By: Fortunato, David; Turner, Ian R (Yale University)
    Abstract: Legislatures differ in their institutional capacity to draft and enact policy. While strong legislatures can increase the congruence of policy outcomes to the electorate's preferences, they can also inject uncertainty into markets with their ability to alter the political economic landscape. We argue that this uncertainty will manifest in a state's ability to borrow and hypothesize a negative relationship between legislative capacity and credit-worthiness. Using ratings of general obligation bonds issued by the American states over nearly two decades and data on the institutional capacity of state legislative assemblies, we find support for the claim that having a legislature that is better equipped to affect policy change increases credit risk evaluations. The results we present broaden our understanding of the importance of legislative institutions, the determinants of credit risk, and the economic implications of democratic responsiveness.
    Date: 2021–09–22
  6. By: Chomiak, Laryssa
    Abstract: At the 10-year anniversary of the Tunisian Revolution, which toppled decades of dictatorship and repositioned discussions about democracy across the Middle East and North Africa, the democratic transition in Tunisia is in flux, or rather at an impasse. On the one hand, Tunisia is celebrated as the lone democratic success story of the 2011 Arab Uprisings, based on multiple cycles of free and fair elections. On the other hand, serious domestic political agitation over the last decade, coupled with deep structural inequalities and a rise in public perceptions of corruption in government, has nearly derailed its course towards democratic consolidation and stability. Democratisation in Tunisia has hinged on the widely celebrated mechanism of consensus among political adversaries in parliament, and among key political and civil society actors. Yet, instead of achieving consensus on critical political and economic-structural reforms, compromise-based arrangements have fallen apart due to intense party infighting, regular resignations of governments, and enormous public pressure resulting from a stagnating economy and lack of vision for comprehensive and equitable economic reform. The effect has been sustained infighting over economic and social policy, which in turn has resulted in diminishing public trust in political parties and new democratic institutions, an all-time low level of satisfaction with the government's performance and a significant rise in contentious politics, particularly between 2019 and 2021. The proliferation of micro-parties (209 registered political parties for a population of 11.8 million) has resulted in confusion among the electorate, while the economic reality of a suffocating international debt crisis, which has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, has rendered levels of public trust in government to an all-time low. At this pivotal moment, Tunisia needs a clear political plan that encompasses a framework for productive political competition and a sound economic vision. To enter into the phase of democratic consolidation - defined as the moment of political, economic and societal stability when authoritarian rule begins to diminish - Tunisian elected authorities and the international community must address rising public demands, which emanate from across all socio-economic classes, for wealth redistribution and sound fiscal policy reform. More effective and transparent public spending will alleviate issues of public trust in all aspects of governance. Reconstructing trust in new democratic institutions is key and also requires a concerted effort to build democracy from the bottom up, particularly in marginal and impoverished areas where socio-economic ills are deeply entrenched, and where political contention is rampant and highest.
    Date: 2021
  7. By: Elisabeth Kempf; Mancy Luo; Larissa Schäfer; Margarita Tsoutsoura
    Abstract: Does partisan perception shape the flow of international capital? We provide evidence from two settings, syndicated corporate loans and equity mutual funds, to show that ideological alignment with foreign governments affects the cross-border capital allocation by U.S. institutional investors. Moreover, we find that ideological alignment with foreign countries also affects investments of non-U.S. investors and can explain patterns in bilateral FDI flows. Our empirical strategy ensures that direct economic effects of foreign elections or bilateral ties between countries are not driving the result. Combined, our findings imply that partisan perception is a global phenomenon and its economic effects transcend national borders.
    JEL: G11 G15 G21 G23
    Date: 2021–09
  8. By: Fintan Oeri; Adrian Rinscheid; Aya Kachi
    Abstract: Comparing the results for preference attainment, self-perceived influence and reputational influence, this paper analyzes the relationship between financial resources and lobbying influence. The empirical analysis builds on data from an original survey with 312 Swiss energy policy stakeholders combined with document data from multiple policy consultation submission processes. The results show that the distribution of influence varies substantially depending on the measure. While financial resources for political purposes predict influence across all measures, the relationship is positive only for some. An analysis of indirect effects sheds light on the potential mechanisms that translate financial resources into influence.
    Date: 2021–09

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