nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2022‒05‒23
thirteen papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. When populists deliver on their promises: the electoral effects of a large cash transfer program in Poland By Michał Brzeziński; Jan Gromadzki; Katarzyna Sałach
  2. Child Penalties in Politics By Jon H. Fiva; Max-Emil M. King
  3. The effect of propaganda on elections: Evidence from the post-Reconstruction South By Winfree, Paul
  4. Career Concerns and the Dynamics of Electoral Accountability By Matias Iaryczower; Adam Meirowitz; Gabriel Lopez-Moctezuma
  5. Representation Failure By Matias Iaryczower; Sergio Montero; Galileu Kim
  6. The Power of Youth: Political Impacts of the "Fridays for Future" Movement By Marc Fabel; Matthias Flückiger; Markus Ludwig; Helmut Rainer; Maria Waldinger; Sebastian Wichert
  7. The Gender Recontest Gap in Elections By Thushyanthan Baskaran; Zohal Hessami
  8. How Economic, Political and Institutional Factors Influence the Choice of Exchange Rate Regimes? New Evidence from Selected Countries of the MENA Region By Najia Maraoui; Thouraya Hadj Amor; Islem Khefacha; Christophe Rault
  9. (Mis-)information technology: Internet use and perception of democracy in Africa By Joël Cariolle; Yasmine Elkhateeb; Mathilde Maurel
  10. The Political Economy of Early Covid-19 Interventions in US States By Martín Gonzalez-Eiras; Dirk Niepelt
  11. Church and State in Historical Political Economy By Sascha O. Becker; Steven Pfaff
  12. In the Grip of Whitehall? The Effects of Party Control on Local Fiscal Policy in the UK By Lockwood, Benjamin; Porcelli, Francesco; Rockey, James
  13. Denialism, Politics and the Covid-19 pandemic in Brazil: an empirical analysis on observational data By Marta Castilho; Valéria Pero; François Roubaud; Mireille Razafindrakoto; João Saboia

  1. By: Michał Brzeziński; Jan Gromadzki; Katarzyna Sałach
    Abstract: We estimate the effects of the introduction of a large cash transfer program on support for the ruling populist party in Poland. We exploit the variation at the municipal level in the annual cash transfer amount received per capita, and use a difference-in-differences research design to study the electoral effects of the transfer. Our results show that a cash transfer amount of $100 per capita translated into an increase in the vote share for the ruling party of nearly two percentage points. We also find that these effects were largely due to the recruitment of previously non-voting individuals. We conclude that without the transfer program, all else being equal, the populist party would not have remained in power.
    Keywords: Elections, Voting Behavior, Populism, Unconditional Cash Transfer
    JEL: D72 H23 H53 I38 J18
    Date: 2022–01
  2. By: Jon H. Fiva; Max-Emil M. King
    Abstract: Women tend to experience substantial declines in their labor income after their first child is born, while men do not. Do such “child penalties” also exist in the political arena? Using extensive administrative data from Norway and an event-study methodology, we find that women drop out of local politics to a larger extent than men after their first child is born. Parenthood also seems to have a differential long-term effect on women and men's political careers, which may explain why women, especially women with children, are underrepresented at higher levels of the political hierarchy.
    Keywords: gender gap, child penalties, political selection
    JEL: D63 D72 J13 J16
    Date: 2022
  3. By: Winfree, Paul
    Abstract: Newspapers in the post-Reconstruction South disseminated propaganda accusing Black voters of excessive public corruption. This paper analyzes new data showing that propaganda influenced election outcomes by weakening biracial political coalitions that challenged the Democratic Party immediately before the adoption of new constitutions legally disenfranchising Black voters. These new constitutions reinforced Democratic control of Southern governments that lasted decades into the twentieth century. Specifically, I find evidence that insinuations of public corruption motivated voters to the polls and split the support for biracial coalitions that may have challenged control of the Democratic Party. I also find evidence that large changes in exposure to propaganda were needed to influence election outcomes when voters were routinely exposed to propaganda.
    Keywords: disenfranchisement,corruption,election outcomes,Reconstruction,Jim Crow,media bias
    JEL: D73 N11 N41 N91
    Date: 2022
  4. By: Matias Iaryczower; Adam Meirowitz; Gabriel Lopez-Moctezuma
    Abstract: Quantifying the value that legislators give to reelection relative to policy is crucial to understanding electoral accountability. We estimate the preferences for office and policy of members of the US Senate, using a structural approach that exploits variation in polls, position-taking and advertising throughout the electoral cycle. We then combine these preference estimates with estimates of the electoral effectiveness of policy moderation and political advertising to quantify electoral accountability in competitive and uncompetitive elections. We find that senators differ markedly in the value they give to securing office relative to policy gains: while over a fourth of senators are highly ideological, a sizable number of senators are willing to make relatively large policy concessions to attain electoral gains. Nevertheless, electoral accountability is only moderate on average, due to the relatively low impact of changes in senators’ policy stance on voter support.
    JEL: C51 C57 D72
    Date: 2022–04
  5. By: Matias Iaryczower; Sergio Montero; Galileu Kim
    Abstract: Democratic representation is constrained by the alternatives available to voters. In this paper, we develop a methodology to gauge the extent to which the “supply side” of politics hinders voter welfare. Using rich data on thousands of candidates in three Brazilian legislative elections, we quantify the relative value voters place on candidates’ policy positions and non-ideological attributes, and we evaluate voters’ welfare given the set of candidates they face. Our estimates uncover substantial welfare losses to voters relative to three alternative benchmarks of ideal representation. On average, the typical voter suffers only a moderate loss due to policy incongruence but a large loss due to shortages in candidates’ non-ideological characteristics. To evaluate the welfare consequences of potential institutional reforms, we develop and estimate a model of equilibrium policy determination. Through counterfactual experiments, we show that institutional reforms aimed at improving the quality of representation may have sizable unintended consequences due to equilibrium policy adjustments.
    JEL: C13 C57 D7 D72
    Date: 2022–04
  6. By: Marc Fabel; Matthias Flückiger; Markus Ludwig; Helmut Rainer; Maria Waldinger; Sebastian Wichert
    Abstract: We study the impact of the “Fridays for Future” climate protest movement in Germany on citizen political behavior and explore possible mechanisms. Over the course of 2019, large crowds of young protesters, most below voting age, skipped school to demonstrate for rapid and far-reaching measures to mitigate climate change. Based on cell phone-based mobility data and hand-collected information on almost 4,000 climate protests, we first construct a novel county ×rally-specific measure of protest participation, allowing us to map out how engagement in the climate movement evolved spatially and temporally. Then, using a variety of empirical strategies to address the issue of nonrandom protest participation, we show that the local strength of the climate movement led to more Green Party votes in state-level and national-level elections during 2019 and thereafter. We provide evidence suggesting that three mechanisms were simultaneously at play: reverse intergenerational transmission of pro-environmental attitudes from children to parents, stronger climate-related social media presence by Green Party politicians, and increased coverage of environmental issues in local media. Together our results suggest that environmental protests by those too young to vote provides some of the impetus needed to push society towards overcoming the climate trap.
    Keywords: climate protest movement, citizen political behavior
    JEL: D72
    Date: 2022
  7. By: Thushyanthan Baskaran; Zohal Hessami
    Abstract: This paper documents an important but mostly overlooked reason for female underrepresentation in politics: gender gaps in the recontest likelihood of candidates. Using hand-collected data on 116,185 candidates in four consecutive local council elections (2001-2016) in a German state, we provide evidence for a gender recontest gap among both incumbent and non-incumbent candidates. Female candidates are 4 to 5 percentage points less likely than male candidates to run again conditional on previous candidacy. Studying mechanisms, we find that women are likely held back by incompatibilities between family obligations and political duties as well as a culture of male dominance in local politics.
    Keywords: gender, political selection, persistence, local councils, candidacy
    Date: 2022
  8. By: Najia Maraoui; Thouraya Hadj Amor; Islem Khefacha; Christophe Rault
    Abstract: In this paper, we investigate how economic, political and institutional factors affect the choice of exchange rate regimes, using data on eight MENA (Middle East and North Africa) countries over the 1984-2016 period. Specifically, we run random-effects ordered probit regressions of the likelihood of exchange rate regimes on potential determinants of exchange rate regimes. Three important findings emerge from the analysis. i) Political and institutional factors play an important role in determining the exchange rate regime in MENA countries: a democratic political regime and a low level of corruption increases the probability to opt for a fixed regime. While, strong governments, political stability such as less internal conflicts and more government stability, more law and order enforcement and left-wing Government decreases the probability to opt for a fixed regime. ii) Bureaucracy, independent central banks, elections, terms of trade as well as the monetary independence have no effect on the choice of exchange rate regimes. iii) Financial development is not a robust determinant of the choice of exchange rate regimes. Our results still hold when considering alternative specifications and have important implications for policy makers in MENA countries.
    Keywords: exchange rate regimes, country risk, political and institutional factors, panel data, ordered probit regression, MENA
    JEL: C23 F33 F55 H80
    Date: 2022
  9. By: Joël Cariolle (FERDI - Fondation pour les Etudes et Recherches sur le Développement International); Yasmine Elkhateeb (CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Cairo University); Mathilde Maurel (CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, FERDI - Fondation pour les Etudes et Recherches sur le Développement International)
    Abstract: This paper investigates the impact of internet use as a means of accessing news on African citizens' demand for and perception of the supply of democracy. This question is addressed using cross-sectional data from the last three rounds of the Afrobarometer survey for a sample of 25 African countries between 2011 and 2018. Using an instrumental variable approach to control for the possible endogeneity bias between internet use and citizens' perceptions, we found that using the internet to get news has a negative and significant effect on the demand for and on the perceived supply of democracy. The negative effect is channeled through two main factors. The first factor is the confidence in governments and governmental institutions, which is undermined by the use of the internet. In particular, we find that this internet-induced lower confidence translates into a higher probability of engaging in street protests instead of increased political participation. The second driving factor is the (mis-)information channel. On the one hand, we show that internet users' perception of the supply of democracy negatively diverges from experts' ratings. On the other hand, we document further that internet use increases the likelihood of incoherence in the respondent's stance about her demand for democracy. Finally, we show that the negative effect we found is mitigated when the internet is complemented by traditional media sources, especially the radio, to get informed. The findings of this study suggest that internet use is not neutral and tends to undermine citizens' preferences for democracy and alter perceptions about the functioning of political institutions.
    Keywords: Internet news,democracy,Africa
    Date: 2022–03
  10. By: Martín Gonzalez-Eiras; Dirk Niepelt
    Abstract: We investigate how politico-economic factors shaped government responses to the spread of COVID-19. Our simple framework uses epidemiological, economic and politico-economic arguments. Confronting the theory with US state level data we find strong evidence for partisanship even when we control for fundamentals including the electorate's political views. Moreover, we detect an important role for the proximity of elections which we interpret as indicative of career concerns. Finally, we find suggestive evidence for complementarities between voluntary activity reductions and government imposed restrictions.
    Keywords: Covid-19, lockdown, politics
    JEL: I18
    Date: 2022
  11. By: Sascha O. Becker (Monash University and University of Warwick); Steven Pfaff (University of Washington)
    Abstract: Over many centuries, church and state have grown together, and apart. Sometimes linked like Siamese twins, sometimes in conflict with each other. This chapter discusses the major themes in the literature on church and state, some of the findings in the political economy of religion, and evaluates emerging directions in research on church-state relations.
    Keywords: Church, State, Secularization, Political Economy, Deregulation
    JEL: Z12 N00 H00
    Date: 2022–05
  12. By: Lockwood, Benjamin (University of Warwick); Porcelli, Francesco (University of Bari); Rockey, James (University of Birmingham)
    Abstract: This paper uses an instrumental variable approach based on close elections to evaluate the effect of political parties on local fiscal policy in England and Wales over the period 1998-2016. Our main finding is that political control of the council (by Labour, Conservative or Liberal Democrat parties) has no effect on total expenditure, the composition of expenditure, the property tax rate (council tax per band D property) or total council tax revenue. Thus, our results confirm the widely expressed belief that centrally imposed constraints on local government fiscal policy (rate-capping, and more recently, compulsory referenda) hold local government fiscal policy in a tight grip. JEL classification: H70 ; H71 ; D72
    Keywords: Party Control ; Grants ; Government Spending ; Taxation
    Date: 2022
  13. By: Marta Castilho (Instituto de Economia da Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro - Brazil); Valéria Pero (Instituto de Economia da Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro - Brazil); François Roubaud (DIAL-LEDa, IRD, Université Paris-Dauphine, PSL Université); Mireille Razafindrakoto (DIAL-LEDa, IRD, Université Paris-Dauphine, PSL Université); João Saboia (Instituto de Economia da Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro - Brazil)
    Abstract: Brazil is among the countries most affected by Covid-19 in terms of number of confirmed cases and deaths. This happens in a national context marked by a denialist positioning of the federal government in combating the pandemic. This study examines, along with other socioeconomic, health and demographic factors, how the political orientation of municipalities is related to the Covid-19 mortality rate. Using several sources of municipal data, a negative binomial model is applied, contemplating the two waves of the pandemic. Subsequently, two other econometric models were estimated in order to analyse two different transmission channels through which political factors impact on the Covid19 mortality rate: one associated with non-pharmacological measures to combat Covid-19 (the mobility of people) and another associated with pharmacological measures (the vaccination). Among the factors analysed, the most striking result concerns the ‘Bolsonaro effect’: the estimations show that mortality rates are higher in the municipalities where the president had the most expressive vote in the 2018 elections. This relationship persists over time in the most recent period. The results regarding population mobility confirm that this is one of the main transmission mechanisms of Covid-19 fatalities. Indeed, the Bolsonaro’ score in the 2018 election is also shown to be significantly and positively correlated with the population mobility in particular when the pandemic reached its most critical levels. Finally, the denialist position at the top of the Federal Government does not seem to compromise the complete vaccination rate of the population beyond the first months after the beginning of the campaign. This result suggests to some extent the increasing awareness of the president's supporters of the risks involved and the effectiveness of vaccines against Covid19. But above all, it reflects apparently the success of the National Immunization Program in Brazil, based on a long tradition, recognized at the international level.
    Keywords: Brazil; Bolsonaro effect; Covid-19; Social distancing; Political Factors; Mobility; Mortality; Public Policies; Socioeconomic Inequalities; Vaccination
    JEL: I14 I18 I38 P16 O54
    Date: 2022–05

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