nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2022‒10‒24
fourteen papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. Abstention and Populist Voting: Evidence from the Italian 2018 Election By Lucia Dalla Pellegrina; Giorgio Di Maio; Mario Gilli
  2. Leader influence on Politics By Lourdes Rojas Rubio
  3. National Polls, Local Preferences and Voters’ Behaviour : Evidence from the UK General Elections By Alabrese, Eleanora
  4. Shocks to Issue Salience and Electoral Competition By Enriqueta Aragonès; Clara Ponsatí
  5. Productive Office and Political Elitism By Auerbach, Jan
  6. Looking Inside the Ballot Box: Gender Gaps in Argentine Presidential Elections By José J. Bercoff; Osvaldo Meloni
  7. The Political Effects of Trade with Japan in the 1980s By Shuichiro Nishioka; Eric Olson
  8. Revealed in Transition: The Political Effect of Planning's Legacy By Timur Natkhov; William Pyle
  9. Voting up? The effects of democracy and franchise extension on human stature By Batinti, Alberto; Costa-Font, Joan; J. Hatton, Timothy
  10. False-name-proof and Strategy-proof Voting Rules under Separable Preferences By Federico Fioravanti; Massó Jordi
  11. Citizens' Â’Protests: causes and consequences By Mario Gilli; Filippo Giorgini
  12. Excess death rates for Republicans and Democrats during the COVID-19 pandemic By Jacob Wallace; Paul Goldsmith-Pinkham; Jason Schwartz
  13. "Railways and Roadways to Trust". By Despina Gavresi; Anastasia Litina; Georgios Tsiachtsiras
  14. Special interest groups, labor market regulations, and labor market performance in the U.S. states By Cole, Ismail M.; Agiobenebo, Tamunopriye J.

  1. By: Lucia Dalla Pellegrina; Giorgio Di Maio; Mario Gilli
    Abstract: This study aims to investigate the demographic, social, and economic drivers of rising abstention and populist electoral success in Italy in 2018. The Italian case is unique in the euro area because, in the political elections of 4 March 2018, two parties usually identified as left-wing and right-wing populists (Movimento 5 Stelle and Lega) obtained an absolute majority of valid votes. In reverse, the main established parties, the center-left Partito Democratico and the center-right Forza Italia, which have alternated in government since 1994, reached their minimum electoral consent. We study the Italian case at the level of the 110 Italian provinces (NUTS 3) by using a data set containing a wide set of demographic and socio-economic indicators, in addition to the results of the political elections in 2008, 2013, and 2018.We regress the results of the political elections of 2018, i.e., abstention and votes obtained by the main parties expressed as a share of citizens entitled to vote, on nine factors obtained by applying an exploratory factor analysis on 41 demographic and socioeconomic variables. Results suggest that abstention is associated with the State’s failure in providing socioeconomic development and security and in repressing organized crime. Moreover, socio-economic well-being is the main driver of voting behavior. In particular, the left-wing populist Movimento 5 Stelle has been successful in the more backward Italian provinces and the right-wing populist Lega in the more developed ones. These results indicate that in 2018 mainstream parties have fallen out of favor with both the most backward and the most advanced provinces, suggesting that the notion of populism should be qualified for an understanding of the observed varieties of non-mainstream parties and voting or abstention behavior.
    Keywords: Populism, voting, abstention, electoral turnout, Italy.
    JEL: D72 D78 H11 J68 P16
    Date: 2022–09
  2. By: Lourdes Rojas Rubio (Université de Cergy-Pontoise, THEMA)
    Abstract: This paper argues that interest-group leaders can influence policies and electoral outcomes through socialisation, endorsement, or both. The leader’s decision of which mechanisms to implement depends on the characteristics of the group. Each mechanism differs in its effect on group members’ preferences and candidates’ announced political platforms. Leader endorsement helps to convey information to all participants and influences group members’ preferences. Instead, leader socialisation permanently shapes group members’ preferences toward his own. I develop four models of political competition, three of which examine separately or jointly the effects of those mechanisms on electoral platforms and outcomes. Furthermore, I illustrate the empirical relevance of the leaders’ mechanisms by discussing the religious leaders’ influence on politics in three case studies from different regions of the world.
    Keywords: Socialisation, endorsement, political competition, leadership, club goods, religion, democratic elections.
    JEL: D02 D72 H4 O57 P48 Z12
    Date: 2022
  3. By: Alabrese, Eleanora (University of Warwick)
    Abstract: A central challenge for social scientists consists in explaining why people vote and what are the consequences of their behaviour. Exploiting variation in national opinion polls across UK general elections, and in the degree of safeness of British constituencies over time, I provide evidence of a significant impact of pre-election polls on electoral outcomes and shed light on a novel mechanism. I find that opinion polls affect voters’ behaviour via their interaction with the recent electoral history of a constituency : first, turnout decreases when the polls predict non-competitive elections, and this effect is stronger in safe seats. Second, the composition of local vote shares and parties’ performance is also impacted by anticipated election closeness and the effects vary heterogeneously depending on whether polls predictions are aligned with the past electoral outcomes of a constituency. Finally, the causal impact on voters’ participation is confirmed with consistent individual-level evidence.
    Keywords: Opinion Polls ; Closeness ; Voters Behaviour ; First-past-the-post ; UK general elections JEL Codes: D72 ; P16
  4. By: Enriqueta Aragonès; Clara Ponsatí
    Abstract: We propose a two party electoral competition model to analyze the effects of an exogenous shock over the relative issue salience on the strategic policy choices of the parties. We find that both parties strategically shift their policy choices from their ideal points towards the ideal point of the median voter of the newly salient issue. The polarization of the distribution of the voters preferences produces a disadvantage for one of the parties, which is forced to implement a large policy shift. We argue that a large policy shift may break a party internal balance among its different factions, which in turn may produce important disruptions in the party system. We illustrate our arguments with an analysis of recent events in Catalonia and the UK.
    Keywords: preference shock, relative salience, party consistency
    JEL: D72
    Date: 2021–10
  5. By: Auerbach, Jan
    Abstract: Many representative democracies experience political elitism in the sense that virtually all members of the national legislature are high-income citizens. However, evidence suggests that electoral prospects are independent of income in the sense that voters do not consider low-income candidates less competent or less likely to get their vote. I explore a financial-rewards channel through which political elitism can arise by self-selection when citizen-candidates’ electoral prospects are independent of income. Elitism arises if and only if the office is attractive and the difference in differences in income between holding office, collecting a salary and outside income, and being a private citizen is large enough. Higher income premia or more productive outside activity for high-income citizens are not necessary or sufficient. Outside income limits can always prevent elitism, while salary reform often cannot. The results offer context for some somewhat mixed evidence on the association between politician pay and politician background.
    Keywords: Political Elitism, Citizen-Candidates, Productive Office, Outside Income
    JEL: D72
    Date: 2022–09–03
  6. By: José J. Bercoff (Universidad Nacional de Tucumán); Osvaldo Meloni (Universidad Nacional de Tucumán)
    Abstract: Since women were given the right to vote in the first half of the 20th century, several studies verify the existence of noticeable differences in women and men voting conduct. Theories explaining such behavior rely mainly on stereotypes, differences in values as well as disparities in self perceptions of men and women This paper, using a unique and unusual gender-segregated voting booths that was in use in Argentina until 2007, suggests that labor market incentives play a key role explaining the electoral gender gap. Our estimations, that come out from a panel data of five presidential elections at district level, show that the voting gender gap reduces as women acquire the head of household status. That is, as women face analogous incentives to men, their evaluation of the incumbent performance and their policies tend to be similar to males leading to a reduction in the gender gap.
    Keywords: Gender gap; Economic voting; Elections; Sociotropic voting; Argentina
    JEL: D72 J16 P16
    Date: 2022–10
  7. By: Shuichiro Nishioka (West Virginia University, Department of Economics); Eric Olson (The University of Tulsa)
    Abstract: The 1974 trade act substantially increased the executive branch's authority in trade negotiations through the granting of fast-track and Section 301 authority. This paper evaluates the effect on U.S. voting behavior resulting from trade with Japan over 1976-1992 time period after the act was passed. To capture U.S. trade exposures to Japan, we develop the Bartik index from Autor et al (2013) for import competition with Japan and show that local exposure to import competition had statistically significant negative impacts on Republican presidential candidates over the 1976-1984 period. Although the second Reagan administration used Section 301 to open Japan's markets and Japanese firms shifted production to the United States, job-creation effects of exports and foreign direct investment did not have any influence on voting outcomes.
    Keywords: Trade exposure, U.S. trade with Japan in the 1980s, U.S. presidential elections
    JEL: F13 P26 P33 R13
    Date: 2022–07
  8. By: Timur Natkhov; William Pyle
    Abstract: Decades of investment decisions by central planners left communist societies with structures of production ill-prepared for competitive markets. Their vulnerability to liberalization, however, varied across space. Similar to the effects identified in the “China shock” literature, we hypothesize that post-market-shock outcomes will reflect pre-market-shock structures of production. Tracking voting outcomes at the district level in Russia’s presidential elections, we document asymmetric reactions to the liberalization of markets in 1992. Electoral support for the pro-market incumbent declined most in areas with structural inheritances that made them most vulnerable to reforms. This finding sheds new light on an old debate about the importance of “initial conditions” (as opposed to policies) to the trajectories of post-communist societies.
    Keywords: industrial structure, transition economy, voting, Russia
    JEL: N33 N53 I15 O15
    Date: 2022
  9. By: Batinti, Alberto; Costa-Font, Joan; J. Hatton, Timothy
    Abstract: We study the effect of the spread of democracy on population health in 15 European countries since the middle of the 19th century, and more specifically the average height of adult males by five-year birth cohort, and we estimate the effect of transitions to democracy using within-country variation. We find that the advent of democracy increased average height by about 0.7 cm. When we also account for the extension of the franchise to women, this increases to 1 cm or about 9% of the total increase in height of birth cohorts from the 1870s to the 1970s. Intervening mechanisms include reduced inequality and increased expenditure on social and health services. Our results are robust to a wide range of econometric tests.
    Keywords: height; democracy; transition; voting rights; franchise; inequality; political contestation; health services
    JEL: H10 J18
    Date: 2022–01–01
  10. By: Federico Fioravanti (Universidad Nacional del Sur/CONICET); Massó Jordi (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)
    Abstract: We consider the problem of a society that uses a voting rule to select a subset from a given set of objects (candidates, binary issues or alike). We assume that voters’preferences over subsets of objects are separable: Adding an object to a set leads to a better set if and only if the object is good (as a singleton set, the object is better thanthe empty set). A voting rule is strategy-proof if no voter benefits by not revealing its preferences truthfully and it is false-name-proof if no voter gains by submitting severalvotes under other identities. We characterize all voting rules that verify false-nameproofness, strategy-proofness, unanimity, anonymity, and neutrality as either the classof voting by quota one (all voters can be decisive for all objects) or the class of voting by full quota (all voters can veto all objects).
    Keywords: False-name-proofness; Strategy-proofness; Separable Preferences
    JEL: D71
    Date: 2022–09
  11. By: Mario Gilli; Filippo Giorgini
    Abstract: Citizens' Â’political participation to protests is a crucial issue for any political system, whether democratic or autocratic. Political systems have different ways of dealing with citizens' Â’protests, determining cost and beneÂ…t of public dissent, responding to public requests and allowing different degree of transparency in public information. Also the social characteristics of a country, such as citizens' Â’diversity and radicalization, matter for citizens' Â’political participation. The aim of this paper is to analyze causes and consequences of citizens' Â’protests, focusing on how private and public information affect citizens' Â’opinion and political behavior, and on how they depend on sociopolitical factors as well as on the political regime. In Regime Change and Revolutionary Entrepreneurs, Bueno de Mesquita proposed a seminal model to study why revolutionary vanguards might use violence to mobilize citizens against a regime. We claim that the model can be used more generally to investigate citizensÂ’ protest. We refer to his model to understand citizensÂ’ political behavior, studying the relationship between the modelÂ’s structural parameters and the causes and consequences of citizens' Â’protests, adopting a partially different approach and extending his results.
    Keywords: protests, political regimes, sociopolitical variables
    JEL: C72 D74 P48
    Date: 2022–09
  12. By: Jacob Wallace; Paul Goldsmith-Pinkham; Jason Schwartz
    Abstract: Political affiliation has emerged as a potential risk factor for COVID-19, amid evidence that Republican-leaning counties have had higher COVID-19 death rates than Democrat-leaning counties and evidence of a link between political party affiliation and vaccination views. This study constructs an individual-level dataset with political affiliation and excess death rates during the COVID-19 pandemic via a linkage of 2017 voter registration in Ohio and Florida to mortality data from 2018 to 2021. We estimate substantially higher excess death rates for registered Republicans when compared to registered Democrats, with almost all of the difference concentrated in the period after vaccines were widely available in our study states. Overall, the excess death rate for Republicans was 5.4 percentage points (pp), or 76\%, higher than the excess death rate for Democrats. Post-vaccines, the excess death rate gap between Republicans and Democrats widened from 1.6 pp (22\% of the Democrat excess death rate) to 10.4 pp (153\% of the Democrat excess death rate). The gap in excess death rates between Republicans and Democrats is concentrated in counties with low vaccination rates and only materializes after vaccines became widely available.
    Date: 2022–09
  13. By: Despina Gavresi (University of Ioannina, Department of Economics, Ioannina, Greece.); Anastasia Litina (University of Macedonia, Department of Economics, Thessaloniki, Greece.); Georgios Tsiachtsiras (University of Bath, School of Management, United Kingdom.)
    Abstract: This paper explores the interplay between the extent of transportation infrastructure and various aspects of trust (interpersonal and political trust). We test our hypothesis by exploiting cross regional variation during the period 2002-2019. We focus on two measures of infrastructure, i.e., the length of railroads and railways in European regions. Interpersonal and political trust variables are derived from individual level data available in nine consecutive rounds of the European Social Survey. We document that individuals who live in regions with extended infrastructure network manifest higher trust both in people and political institutions. To mitigate endogeneity concerns, we extend our analysis to a sample of international and inter-regional immigrants. We further adopt an IV approach, where we use as an instrument the pre-existing Roman roads networks. The results from all three speciï¬ cations are aligned to those of the benchmark analysis. We explore access to differential levels of trust as one of the underlying mechanisms behind our results. Relying on an expanding literature we hypothesize that the effect of infrastructure on trust operates directly via the degree of exposure to new people and ideas, as well as indirectly, via the effect of infrastructure on the structure of the economy.
    Keywords: Motorways, Railroads, Political trust, Interpersonal trust. JEL classification: Z10, P48, R10, R40.
    Date: 2022–10
  14. By: Cole, Ismail M.; Agiobenebo, Tamunopriye J.
    Abstract: This paper uses data from the fifty US states from 2006-2015 to explore how labor market regulations and the strength of special interest groups’ (SIGs) influence in the political process might affect labor market performance. A dynamic panel data model is specified and estimated using a sequential two-stage (two-step GMM) method (Kripfganz and Schwarz (2019)), which addresses endogeneity and other estimation issues, and allows direct parameter estimates for the time-constant dummies measuring SIGs influence. We find that the performance impact of alternative measures of regulation depends on the strength of SIGs' influence and that neglecting to account for such influence, as in the sizeable empirical literature, may lead to misspecification problems serious enough to undermine the validity of conclusions drawn about the nature of the relationships between the regulations and labor market performance. We also find strong support for various hypotheses relating to the independent and combined effects of labor market regulations and SIGs' influence on labor market performance. Also, in most cases, these effects are significantly stronger in the states where the SIGs' influence is dominant, such as Alabama, Florida, Hawaii, and Nevada. An apparent implication of this study is that an analysis of labor market performance that ignores the role of SIGs is, at best incomplete.
    Keywords: regulation,special interest groups,rent-seeking,labor market performance,multiplicative interaction models
    Date: 2022

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