nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2022‒03‒21
eleven papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. Homophily in Voting Behavior: Evidence from Preferential Voting By Lucie Coufalová; Štěpán Mikula; Michal Ševčík
  2. Electoral Turnovers By Benjamin Marx; Vincent Pons; Vincent Rollet
  3. Electoral Competition with Fake News By Gene M. Grossman; Elhanan Helpman
  4. The Legacy of Authoritarianism in a Democracy By Pramod Kumar Sur
  5. Minority Underrepresentation in U.S. Cities By Federico Ricca; Francesco Trebbi
  6. Uncooperative Society, Uncooperative Politics or Both? Trust, Polarisation, Populism and COVID-19 Deaths across European regions By Nicholas Charron; Victor Lapuente; Andres Rodriguez-Pose
  7. Active political engagement, political patronage, and local labour markets - the example of Shkoder By Drishti, Elvisa; Kopliku, Bresena; Imami, Drini
  8. Blame and Praise: Responsibility Attribution Patterns in Decision Chains By Regina Anselm; Deepti Bhatia; Urs Fischbacher; Jan Hausfeld
  9. Electoral incentives in small polities: a case study By Francesco De Sinopoli; Diego Lubian
  10. Forbidden Fruits: The Political Economy of Science, Religion, and Growth By Roland Roland Bénabou; Davide Ticchi; Andrea Vindigni
  11. Media Trust and Persuasion By Kitamura, Shuhei; Kuroda, Toshifumi

  1. By: Lucie Coufalová (Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic); Štěpán Mikula (Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic); Michal Ševčík (Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic, Mendel University in Brno, Brno, Czech Republic)
    Abstract: Homophily is a strong determinant of many types of human relationships. It affects, for example, whom we marry and potentially also whom we vote for. We use data on preferential voting from Czech parliamentary elections in 2006, 2010, 2013, and 2017 matched with 2011 Census data to identify the effect of homophily on voting behavior. We find that a one percent increase in the share of the municipality’s population that has the same occupation or education level as the candidate increases the number of preferential votes that candidate receives by 0.7% or 0.5%, respectively. We also find that candidates who live in the voters’ municipality receive a substantially higher number of preferential votes.
    Keywords: voting behavior; homophily; preferential voting; Czech parliamentary elections
    JEL: D72 D91 P16
    Date: 2022–03
  2. By: Benjamin Marx; Vincent Pons; Vincent Rollet
    Abstract: In most national elections, voters face a key choice between continuity and change. Electoral turnovers occur when the incumbent candidate or party fails to win reelection. To understand how turnovers affect national outcomes, we study the universe of presidential and parliamentary elections held since 1945. We document the prevalence of turnovers over time and we estimate their effects on economic performance, trade, human development, conflict, and democracy. Using a close-elections regression discontinuity design (RDD) across countries, we show that turnovers improve country performance. These effects are not driven by differences in the characteristics of challengers, or by the fact that challengers systematically increase the level of government intervention in the economy. Electing new leaders leads to more policy change, it improves governance, and it reduces perceived corruption, consistent with the expectation that recently elected leaders exert more effort due to stronger reputation concerns.
    JEL: D72 O43 P16
    Date: 2022–02
  3. By: Gene M. Grossman (Princeton University); Elhanan Helpman (Harvard University)
    Abstract: Misinformation pervades political competition. We introduce opportunities for political candidates and their media supporters to spread fake news about the policy environment and perhaps about parties’ positions into a familiar model of electoral competition. In the baseline model with full information, the parties’ positions converge to those that maximize aggregate welfare. When parties can broadcast fake news to audiences that disproportionately include their partisans, policy divergence and suboptimal outcomes can result. We study a sequence of models that impose progressively tighter constraints on false reporting and characterize situations that lead to divergence and a polarized electorate.
    Keywords: policy formation, probabilistic voting, misinformation, polarization, fake news
    JEL: D78
    Date: 2020–10
  4. By: Pramod Kumar Sur
    Abstract: Recent democratic backsliding and the rise of authoritarian regimes around the world have rekindled interest in understanding the causes and consequences of authoritarian rule in democracies. In this paper, I study the long-run political consequences of authoritarianism in the context of India, the world's largest democracy. Utilizing the unexpected timing of the authoritarian rule imposed in the 1970s and the variation in a draconian policy implemented during this period, I document a sharp decline in the share of the then incumbent party's, the Indian National Congress, votes and the probability of its candidates winning in subsequent elections. The decline in the incumbent party's political dominance was not at the expense of a lower voter turnout rate. Instead, a sharp rise in the number of opposition candidates contesting for election in subsequent years played an important role. Finally, I examine the enduring consequences, revealing that confidence in politicians remains low in states where the draconian policy was high. Together, the evidence suggests that authoritarianism in a democracy has a persistent effect on voting behavior, political representation, and confidence in institutions.
    Date: 2022–02
  5. By: Federico Ricca; Francesco Trebbi
    Abstract: This paper investigates the patterns of Minority representation and voter registration in U.S. municipal governments. For the period 1981-2020, we report substantial levels of strategic underrepresentation of African American, Asian, and Latino voters in U.S. local politics. Disproportionality in the representation and in voter registration rates of Minority groups are widespread, but stronger when racial or ethnic minorities are electorally pivotal. Underrepresentation is determined by the combination of several endogenous institutional features, starting from systematic disparity in voter registration, strategic selection of electoral rules, city’s form of government, council size, and pay of elected members of the council. We provide causal evidence of the strategic use of local political institutions in reducing electoral representation of minorities based on the U.S. Supreme Court narrow decision of Shelby County v. Holder (2013), which deemed unconstitutional Voting Rights Act (VRA) Section 4(b), removing federal preclearance requirements for a specific subset of U.S. jurisdictions.
    JEL: P16 P48
    Date: 2022–02
  6. By: Nicholas Charron; Victor Lapuente; Andres Rodriguez-Pose
    Abstract: Why have some territories performed better than others in the fight against COVID-19? This paper uses a novel dataset on excess mortality, trust and political polarization for 165 European regions to explore the role of social and political divisions in the remarkable regional differences in excess mortality during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. First, we investigate whether regions characterized by a low social and political trust witnessed a higher excess mortality. Second, we argue that it is not only levels, but also polarisation in trust among citizens – in particular, between government supporters and non-supporters – what matters for understanding why people in some regions have adopted more pro-healthy behaviour. Third, we explore the partisan make-up of regional parliaments and the relationship between political division – or what we refer to as ‘uncooperative politics’. We hypothesize that the ideological positioning – in particular those that lean more populist – and ideological polarization among political parties is also linked to higher mortality. Accounting for a host of potential confounders, we find robust support that regions with lower levels of both social and political trust are associated with higher excess mortality, along with citizen polarization in institutional trust in some models. On the ideological make-up regional parliaments, we find that, ceteris paribus, those that lean more ‘tan’ on the ‘gal-tan’ spectrum yielded higher excess mortality. Moreover, although we find limited evidence of elite polarization driving excess deaths on the left-right or gal-tan spectrums, partisan differences on the attitudes towards the EU demonstrated significantly higher deaths, which we argue proxies for (anti)populism. Overall, we find that both lower citizen-level trust and populist elite-level ideological characteristics of regional parliaments are associated with higher excess mortality in European regions during the first wave of the pandemic.
    Keywords: COVID-19; trust, polarization, populism, regions
    JEL: E02 H75 R58
    Date: 2022–01
  7. By: Drishti, Elvisa; Kopliku, Bresena; Imami, Drini
    Abstract: Purpose: This paper aims to contribute to understanding of the effects of active political engagement in port-of-entry jobs and employment pathways for graduate students. The data are derived from a structured survey of a small local labour market where political clientelism is pronounced due to the strong network ties. Controlling for both demand and supply factors we identify a profile for those who are more prone to engage politically in exchange for public sector jobs, which are in turn vulnerable to regime changes. Design/methodology/approach: We use data from a sample of 191 participants that records month-tomonth employment states for three consecutive years (2012-2014). The method attempts to replicate an experimental design with repeated measures before and after the June 2013 government elections. The data is analysed using sequence analysis with optimal matching and difference-in-difference methods. Note: This is the final submitted version of the manuscript accepted for publication by the International Journal of Manpower, on the 5th of February 2022. Findings: The analysis provides evidence of links between political engagement and selection onto different employment pathways. The pathways themselves are also shown to be differentially impacted by the 2013 election (positively or negatively). Together, these results are supportive of claims that jobs in Albania, particularly those in the public sector, are linked to the short-term presence of vote-buying and the political business cycle. This is shown to be the case even for this sample of educated members of the labour force (i.e. university graduates). The analysis also finds evidence of accumulative disadvantages over time, in relation to subjective perceptions of life satisfaction, migration intentions, employability and success in life, as a result of active political engagement. Originality: The study uses a unique data set and a novel methodology, sequence analysis. Occupational history calendars were used to capture quantitative information recording detailed work histories. To the best of our knowledge, this innovative method has not been used before to measure the temporal effects of political engagement on employment pathways.
    Keywords: political clientelism,Albania,higher education,sequence analysis,employment pathways
    Date: 2022
  8. By: Regina Anselm; Deepti Bhatia; Urs Fischbacher; Jan Hausfeld
    Abstract: How do people attribute responsibility when an outcome is not caused by a single person but results from a decision chain involving several people? We study this question in an experiment, in which five voters sequentially decide on how to distribute money between them and five recipients. The recipients can reward or punish each voter, which measures responsibility attribution. In the aggregate, we find that responsibility is attributed mostly according to the voters’ choices and the pivotality of the decision, but not for being the initial voter. On the individual level, we find substantial heterogeneity with three overall patterns: Little to no responsibility attribution, pivotality-driven, and focus on choices. These patterns are similar when praising voters for good outcomes and blaming voters for bad outcomes.
    Keywords: Responsibility Attribution, Collective Decision-Making, Voting, Decision Process
    Date: 2022
  9. By: Francesco De Sinopoli (Department of Economics (University of Verona)); Diego Lubian (Department of Economics (University of Verona))
    Abstract: It is well known, from the pioneering work of Lizzeri and Persico (2001) on, that in winner-take-all systems office-motivated politicians prefer to underprovide public goods in favor of pork-barrel spending. Believing that similar incentives are present even in small polities, we analyze a policy proposal in a medium-sized Department of Economics obtaining results in line with the empirical literature on government spending.
    Keywords: Polity, Electoral Incentives, Public goods provision
    Date: 2020–09
  10. By: Roland Roland Bénabou (Princeton University); Davide Ticchi (Marche Polytechnic University); Andrea Vindigni (University of Genova)
    Abstract: We study the coevolution of religion, science and politics. We first uncover, in international and U.S. data, a robust negative relationship between religiosity and patents per capita. The model then combines: (i) scientific discoveries that raise productivity but sometimes erode religious beliefs; (ii) a government that allows innovations to diffuse, or blocks them; (iii) religious institutions that can invest in doctrinal reform. Three long-term outcomes emerge. The Western-European Secularization regime has declining religiosity, unimpeded science, and high taxes and transfers. The Theocratic regime involves knowledge stagnation, unquestioned dogma, and high religious-public-goods spending. The American regime combines scientific progress and stable religiosity through doctrinal adaptations, with low taxes and some fiscal-legal advantages for religious activities. Rising income inequality can, however, empower a Religious-Right alliance that starts blocking belief-eroding ideas.
    Keywords: science, discovery, innovation, progress, knowledge, religion, secularization, tolerance, religious right, theocracy, politics, populism, denialism, inequality, redistribution
    JEL: E02 H11 H41 O3 O43 P16 Z12
    Date: 2020–07
  11. By: Kitamura, Shuhei; Kuroda, Toshifumi
    Abstract: This study examines the effect of media use on media trust and persuasion using a large-scale randomized field experiment, which was conducted in collaboration with the nation's most trusted media outlet. By randomly increasing the capacity for viewing its TV programs, we found that this treatment increased support for government policies by increasing program viewing time, which is, as we demonstrate, biased in favor of the government. Furthermore, we determined that the effect is driven mostly by those who trusted the outlet more than other broadcasters and that their levels of trust in the outlet were even *increased* by our treatment, which we call *endogenous persuasion*. By contrast, we did not discover heterogeneous effects with respect to political preferences. To better understand the mechanism underlying these findings, we developed a model of endogenous persuasion.
    Date: 2021–11–16

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