nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2022‒01‒24
eight papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. Corrupted Votes and Rule Compliance By Arno Apffelstaedt; Jana Freundt
  2. Partisan Fertility and Presidential Elections By Gordon B. Dahl; Runjing Lu; William Mullins
  3. Opening Heaven's Door: Public Opinion and Congressional Votes on the 1965 Immigration Act By Facchini, Giovanni; Hatton, Timothy J.; Steinhardt, Max F.
  4. Political inclusion and democracy in Africa: some empirical evidence By Tii N. Nchofoung; Simplice A. Asongu; Vanessa S. Tchamyou; Ofeh M. Edoh
  5. Colombia: Democratic but Violent? By Leopoldo Fergusson; Juan F. Vargas
  6. Where Does Opportunity Knock? On doors that voted for the Executive By Stan Oklobdzija; Cameron Shelton
  7. Does Democracy Make Taller Men? Cross-Country European Evidence By Alberto Batinti; Joan Costa-i-Font
  8. Robust Voting under Uncertainty By Satoshi Nakada; Shmuel Nitzan; Takashi Ui

  1. By: Arno Apffelstaedt (University of Cologne and ECONtribute); Jana Freundt (University of Fribourg, Department of Economics and University of Pennsylvania, School of Arts and Sciences)
    Abstract: Allegations of voter fraud accompany many real-world elections. How does electoral malpractice affect the acceptance of elected institutions? Using an online experiment in which people distribute income according to majority-elected rules, we show that those who experience vote buying or voter disenfranchisement during the election are subsequently less willing to comply with the rule. On average, the detrimental impact of electoral malpractice on compliance is of the same magnitude as removing the election altogether and imposing a rule exogenously. Our experiment shows how corrupting democratic processes can impact economic behavior and sheds light on the behavioral mechanisms underlying "rule legitimacy".
    Keywords: rule compliance, endogenous institutions, corruption, procedural fairness, legitimacy
    JEL: D02 D72 D91 C92
    Date: 2022–01
  2. By: Gordon B. Dahl; Runjing Lu; William Mullins
    Abstract: Changes in political leadership drive sharp changes in public policy and partisan beliefs about the future. We exploit the surprise 2016 election of Trump to identify the effects of a shift in political power on one of the most consequential household decisions: whether to have a child. Republican-leaning counties experience a sharp and persistent increase in fertility relative to Democratic counties, a shift amounting to 1.2 to 2.2% of the national fertility rate. In addition, Hispanics see fertility fall relative to non-Hispanics, especially compared to rural or evangelical whites.
    Keywords: fertility, partisanship, elections
    JEL: J13 D72
    Date: 2021
  3. By: Facchini, Giovanni (University of Nottingham); Hatton, Timothy J. (University of Essex); Steinhardt, Max F. (Free University of Berlin)
    Abstract: The Immigration Act of 1965 marked a dramatic shift in policy and one with major long term consequences for the volume and composition of immigration to the United States. Here we explore the political economy of a reform that has been overshadowed by the Civil Rights and Great Society programs. We find that public opinion was against expanding immigration, but it was more favorable to abolishing the old country of origin quota system. Votes in the House of Representatives and the Senate were more closely linked to opinion on abolishing the country of origin quotas than to public opinion on the volume of immigration. Support for immigration reform initially followed in the slipstream of civil rights legislation both among members of Congress and their constituents. The final House vote, on a more restrictive version of the bill, was instead more detached from state-level public opinion on civil rights and gained more support from those whose constituents wanted to see immigration decreased.
    Keywords: US immigration policy, 1965 Immigration Act, congressional voting
    JEL: N12 F22 J68
    Date: 2021–12
  4. By: Tii N. Nchofoung (University of Dschang, Cameroon); Simplice A. Asongu (Yaoundé, Cameroon); Vanessa S. Tchamyou (Yaoundé, Cameroon); Ofeh M. Edoh (Yaoundé, Cameroon)
    Abstract: The objective of this study is to examine the effect of political inclusion on democracy in Africa. The results of the analyses through the OLS, system GMM, IV-Tobit and IV-2SLS show that political inclusion enhances democracy in Africa. This result is robust across alternative specifications of political inclusion and democracy. Besides, the results equally stood when controlled for colonisation and internal conflicts. As policy implications, policy makers in Africa should enhance their fight for political inclusion as one of the gateways to promoting democracy. In this respect, national laws could be put in place, which impose gender quotas in political positions in every country. Equally, the African Union could sign a convention on these quotas for respective countries to ratify.
    Keywords: : Political inclusion; democracy; Africa
    JEL: I32 O55 P16 P43 P50
    Date: 2021–12
  5. By: Leopoldo Fergusson; Juan F. Vargas
    Abstract: Colombia is a Latin American outlier in that it has traditionally been a very violent country, yet at the same time remarkably democratic. This chapter explores Colombia’s puzzle from a political economy perspective, shedding light on the broader relationship between democracy and violence. The chapter studies some of the most important democratization reforms since Colombia’s independence 200 years ago. It argues that the reforms often failed to curb violence and sometimes even actively, though perhaps unintendedly, exacerbated violent political strife. Democratic reforms were unable to set the ground for genuine power-sharing. They were often implemented amidst a weak institutional environment that allowed powerful elites, the reforms’ ex-ante political losers, to capture the State and offset the benefits of the reforms for the broader society. We conclude by highlighting the implications of the argument for other countries facing democratic reforms, as well as for Colombia’s current peace-building efforts.
    Keywords: Colombia, democracy, democratization, conflict, violence, power-sharing, politicalinstitutions.
    JEL: D72 D74 P48
    Date: 2022–01–13
  6. By: Stan Oklobdzija; Cameron Shelton
    Abstract: The incomplete nature of legislation bestows on the executive branch the residual rights of control over implementation of public policy. The Trump Tax Bill of December 2017, which gave U.S. state governors a one-time opportunity to distribute a geographically-targeted federal tax incentive, provides a useful case-study to untangle the determinants of accountability. All 50 Governors were given the opportunity to designate census tracts within their state for preferential tax treatment. Within 120 days of passage, governors selected up to 25% of their eligible tracts, a short window that allows confident measurement of the political situation when the favor was distributed. We model a governors’ designation of tracts to maximize competing goals of mobilizing their voters, persuading swing voters, rewarding co-partisan legislators, and pursuing the programmatic goal of alleviating poverty. We then estimate the likelihood that an eligible tract is selected as a function of both the economic characteristics of the tract and the political characteristics of the governor and the relevant state and federal legislators. Our results suggest that the executive accountability engendered by eligibility for reelection is weakened by the dual constituency hypothesis, especially in cases where programmatic intent conflicts with the governor’s political motives.
    Keywords: Opportunity Zones; Term Limits; Dual-constituency hypothesis
    JEL: H71 D72
    Date: 2022–01–05
  7. By: Alberto Batinti; Joan Costa-i-Font
    Abstract: We study whether a democracy improves a measure of individual wellbeing; human heights. Drawing on individual-level datasets, we test the hypothesis using a battery of eight different measures of democracy and derived averages, and include models accounting for several confounders, regional and cohort fixed effects. We document that democracy - or its quality during early childhood - shows a strong and positive conditional correlation with male, but not female, adult stature. Our preferred estimates suggest that being born in a democracy increases average male stature from a minimum of 1.33 to a maximum of 2.4 cm. Together with the positive association with male stature and the increase in gender dimorphism, we also show an additional contribution when democracy increases furtherly during adolescent years, and when we adopt measures of existing democratic capital before birth and at the end of height plasticity in early adulthood. We also find that democracy is associated with a reduction in inequality of heights distribution. We find period-heterogeneity in our results, with early democratizations being more effective on heights than later ones. Results are robust to the inclusion/exclusion of countries exposed to communism.
    Keywords: democracy, wellbeing, human heights, waves of democratisation, communism, Europe, survey data
    JEL: I18 P20
    Date: 2021
  8. By: Satoshi Nakada (School of Management, Department of Business Economics, Tokyo University of Science); Shmuel Nitzan (Department of Economics, Bar-Ilan University); Takashi Ui (Department of Economics, Hitotsubashi University)
    Abstract: This paper proposes normative criteria for voting rules under uncertainty about individual preferences to characterize a weighted majority rule (WMR). The criteria stress the significance of responsiveness, i.e., the probability that the social outcome coincides with the realized individual preferences. A voting rule is said to be robust if, for any probability distribution of preferences, the responsiveness of at least one individual is greater than one-half. This condition is equivalent to the seemingly stronger condition requiring that, for any probability distribution of preferences and any deterministic voting rule, the responsiveness of at least one individual is greater than that under the deterministic voting rule. Our main result establishes that a voting rule is robust if and only if it is a WMR without ties. This characterization of a WMR avoiding the worst possible outcomes provides a new complement to the well-known characterization of a WMR achieving the optimal outcomes, i.e., efficiency in the set of all random voting rules.
    Keywords: majority rule, weighted majority rule, responsiveness, belief-free criterion.
    JEL: D71 D81

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