nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2022‒08‒22
nine papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. Trump Digs Votes - The Effect of Trump's Coal Campaign on the Presidential Ballot in 2016 By Marina Di Giacomo; Wolfgang Nagl; Philipp Steinbrunner
  2. Gaining Insights on U.S. Senate Speeches Using a Time Varying Text Based Ideal Point Model By Paul Hofmarcher; Sourav Adhikari; Bettina Gr\"un
  3. Ballot length in instant runoff voting By Kiran Tomlinson; Johan Ugander; Jon Kleinberg
  4. Chinese Aid and Democratic Values in Latin America By Andreas Freytag; Miriam Kautz
  5. Political Ideology, Mood Response, and the Confirmation Bias By Dickinson, David L.
  6. Inside the West Wing: Lobbying as a contest By Alastair Langtry
  7. Does Growing up in Economic Hard Times Increase Compassion? The Case of Attitudes towards Immigration By Maria Cotofan; Robert Dur; Stephan Meier
  8. Legitimize through Endorsement By Andrea Gallice; Edoardo Grillo
  9. Tax Reforms and Political Feasibility By Felix Bierbrauer; Pierre Boyer; Andrew Lonsdale; Andreas Peichl

  1. By: Marina Di Giacomo; Wolfgang Nagl; Philipp Steinbrunner
    Abstract: In this paper we investigate the effect of Donald Trump’s campaign for coal in his successful race for the White House in 2016. Using a spatial Durbin model we estimate the effect of coal production on the Republicans vote share in the US Presidential Election of 2016 on the county level. To avoid biased estimates we take spillover effects into account and use spatial clustering. We find a significant positive effect. The effect becomes even more pronounced when we use the vote-share difference between Mitt Romney in 2012 and Donald Trump in 2016 as the dependent variable. The positive effect of coal production on the Republican vote share are retained after allowing for non-linear effects of coal production and using coal production per worker and per working hours as main explanatory variable.
    Keywords: US Presidential Election 2016, coal production, Durbin model
    JEL: D72 P16 P18 R11
    Date: 2022
  2. By: Paul Hofmarcher; Sourav Adhikari; Bettina Gr\"un
    Abstract: Estimating political positions of lawmakers has a long tradition in political science. We present the time varying text based ideal point model to study the political positions of lawmakers based on text data. In addition to identifying political positions, our model also provides insights into topical contents and their change over time. We use our model to analyze speeches given in the U.S. Senate between 1981 and 2017 and demonstrate how the results allow to conclude that partisanship between Republicans and Democrats increased in recent years. Further we investigate the political positions of speakers over time as well as at a specific point in time to identify speakers which are positioned at the extremes of their political party based on their speeches. The topics extracted are inspected to assess how their term compositions differ in dependence of the political position as well as how these term compositions change over time.
    Date: 2022–06
  3. By: Kiran Tomlinson; Johan Ugander; Jon Kleinberg
    Abstract: Instant runoff voting (IRV) is an increasingly-popular alternative to traditional plurality voting in which voters submit rankings over the candidates rather than individual votes. In practice, municipalities often restrict the ballot length, the number of candidates a voter is allowed to rank on their ballot. We theoretically and empirically analyze how ballot length can influence the outcome of an election, given fixed voter preferences. We show that there exist preference profiles over $k$ candidates such that up to $k-1$ different candidates win at different ballot lengths. We derive exact lower bounds on the number of voters required for such profiles and provide constructions matching these bounds. Additionally, we fully characterize which sequences of winners are possible over ballot lengths and provide explicit profile constructions achieving any feasible winner sequence. Finally, we analyze a collection of 168 real-world elections, where we truncate rankings to simulate shorter ballots. We find that shorter ballots could have changed the outcome in one quarter of these elections and that longer ballots can favor particular candidates. Our results highlight ballot length as a consequential degree of freedom in the design of IRV elections.
    Date: 2022–07
  4. By: Andreas Freytag; Miriam Kautz
    Abstract: International economic engagement has been increasingly framed in terms of liberal democratic values. Specifically, Chinese aid has been at the center of this debate. Since Chinese aid comes with “no strings attached,” a popular narrative is that Chinese aid poses a challenge to conditional aid, thus weakening democracy promotion. This study aims to deepen our understanding of how democratic values are shaped by international economic engagement. Drawing on the Latinobarómetro Household Survey, we use an instrumental variable approach to test the effect of Chinese aid on attitudes toward democracy in 18 Latin American countries on the national and regional level. We find that Chinese aid has a non-negative effect on support for democracy. We also find that individuals who have a positive attitude towards China are more likely to value democracy. In contrast, positive attitudes towards the USA have no robust impact on support for democracy.
    Keywords: China, Latin America, foreign aid, public opinion, support for democracy, values
    JEL: F35 F61 F69 O54 P33
    Date: 2022
  5. By: Dickinson, David L. (Appalachian State University)
    Abstract: The confirmation bias is a well-known form of motivated reasoning that serves to protect an individual from cognitive discomfort. Hearing rival viewpoints or belief-opposing information creates cognitive dissonance, and so avoiding exposure to, or discounting the validity of, dissonant information are rational strategies that may help avoid or mitigate negative emotion. Because there is often systematic thought involved in generating the confirmation bias, deliberation tends to promote this behavioral bias. Nevertheless, the importance of negative emotion in triggering the need for this bias is underappreciated. This paper addresses a gap in the literature by examining mood and the confirmation bias in the political domain. Using results from two studies and three distinct decision tasks, we present data on over 1100 participants documenting the confirmation bias in different settings. All methods (recruitment and sample size, hypotheses, variables, analysis plans, etc.) were preregistered on the Open Science Framework. Our data show evidence of a confirmation bias across distinct dimensions of belief and preference formation. As hypothesized, the data show a strong increase in self-reported negative mood states after viewing political statements or information that are dissonant with one's political ideology. Finally, while not as robust across tasks, we report evidence that supports our hypothesis that negative mood will moderate the strength of the confirmation bias. Together, these results highlight the importance of mood response in understanding the confirmation bias, which helps further our understanding of how this bias may be particularly difficult to combat.
    Keywords: confirmation bias, sleep, deliberation, cognitive reflection, motivated reasoning
    JEL: C91 D91 D89
    Date: 2022–07
  6. By: Alastair Langtry
    Abstract: We treat lobbying as a contest. We find that a benevolent government wants to give favourable treatment to certain special interest groups in exchange for contributions. In other words, the government sells "protection". Doing so improves overall welfare. The government sells protection to build its own "war chest" of political capital, and does so until it wins all remaining contests. It will sell protection to those it finds least objectionable. Treating lobbying as a contest stands in contrast to prevailing models that view lobbying as driven by information or agency problems.
    Date: 2022–07
  7. By: Maria Cotofan (Centre for Economic Performance, London School of Economics); Robert Dur (Erasmus University Rotterdam, Tinbergen Institute, CESifo, and IZA); Stephan Meier (Columbia Business School, CESifo, and IZA)
    Abstract: Recent evidence shows that people who grew up in economic hard times more strongly favor government redistribution and are more compassionate towards the poor. We investigate how inclusive this increase in compassion is by studying how macroeconomic conditions experienced during young adulthood affect immigration attitudes. Using US and global data, we show that experiencing bad macroeconomic circumstances strengthen anti-immigration attitudes for life. Moreover, we find that people become generally more outgroup hostile. Our results thus suggest that the underlying motive for more government redistribution is not a universal increase in compassion, but more self-interested and restricted to one’s ingroup.
    Keywords: Immigration, Attitudes, Social preferences, Parochialism, Redistribution, Macroeconomic conditions, Impressionable years
    JEL: J1 D9 E7
    Date: 2022–07–28
  8. By: Andrea Gallice; Edoardo Grillo
    Abstract: Individuals dier in their propensity to violate social norms. Over time, the propensity of some individuals to violate these norms may change in response to socioeconomic shocks. When these changes are not publicly observable, norm abidance may remain high because individuals fear social costs. We study how an opinion leader who is privately informed about the direction and size of the societal change can boost or hinder the abidance by a social norm. We show that the opinion leader can impact individuals' behavior when she is neither too ideologically sided in favor of the norm violation, nor too concerned about her popularity. The impact of the opinion leader is stronger when social concerns are an important driver of individuals' behavior, the uncertainty concerning the deepness of the societal change is high, and citizens interact more often with like- minded individuals.
    Keywords: Social norms; societal change; opinion leaders; endorsements; legitimization
    Date: 2022
  9. By: Felix Bierbrauer (University of Cologne); Pierre Boyer (CREST - Centre de Recherche en Économie et Statistique - ENSAI - Ecole Nationale de la Statistique et de l'Analyse de l'Information [Bruz] - X - École polytechnique - ENSAE Paris - École Nationale de la Statistique et de l'Administration Économique - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, IPP - Institut des politiques publiques); Andrew Lonsdale (CREST - Centre de Recherche en Économie et Statistique - ENSAI - Ecole Nationale de la Statistique et de l'Analyse de l'Information [Bruz] - X - École polytechnique - ENSAE Paris - École Nationale de la Statistique et de l'Administration Économique - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique); Andreas Peichl (LMU - Ludwig Maximilian University [Munich])
    Abstract: Questions linked to the design and implementation of redistributive tax policies have occupied a growing position on the public agenda over recent years. Moreover, the fiscal pressures brought upon by the current coronavirus crisis will ensure that these issues maintain considerable political significance for years to come. In light of this importance, we present novel research on reforms of income tax systems. Our approach shows that tax reforms wherein the changes in individual tax burdens are larger for taxpayers with higher incomes are of particular interest. We denote such reforms as "monotonic" and show that, under this condition, it is possible to determine the "winners" and "losers" of a given tax reform. One can then conclude whether the monotonic reform is politically feasible, depending on whether a majority of individuals will benefit financially from the policy. An empirical analysis of tax reforms with a focus on the United States and France reveals that past reforms have, by and large, been monotonic. Our approach therefore enables us to test whether a given tax system admits a politically feasible reform and has direct policy relevance for the common types of taxation reforms undertaken by government authorities.
    Date: 2021–09

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