nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2023‒07‒17
seventeen papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu
University of Calgary

  1. Candidate Incentive Distributions: How voting methods shape electoral incentives By Marcus Ogren
  2. Elections and Policies. Evidence from the Covid Pandemic By Daryna Grechyna
  3. Black Empowerment and White Mobilization: The Effects of the Voting Rights Act By Bernini, Andrea; Facchini, Giovanni; Tabellini, Marco; Testa, Cecilia
  4. "Good Politicians": Experimental Evidence on Motivations for Political Candidacy and Government Performance By Gulzar, Saad; Khan, Muhammed Yasir
  5. Information aggregation with delegation of votes By Amrita Dhillon; Grammateia Kotsialou; Dilip Ravindran; Dimitrios Xefteris
  6. An Empirical Analysis of the Effect of Ballot Truncation on Ranked-Choice Electoral Outcomes By Mallory Dickerson; Erin Martin; David McCune
  7. Education, fake news and the Political Budget Cycle By Fabio Padovano; Pauline Mille
  8. Trust in the fight against political corruption: A survey experiment among citizens and experts By Benjamin Monnery; Alexandre Chirat
  9. On Two Voting systems that combine approval and preferences: Fallback Voting and Preference Approval Voting By Eric Kamwa
  10. The Political Consequences of Vaccines: Quasi-experimental Evidence from Eligibility Rules By ; Felipe Gonzalez
  11. George Floyd's Murder Prompted Thousands of Americans to Register to Vote By Holbein, John B.; Hassell, Hans
  12. Flight to Safety: COVID-Induced Changes in the Intensity of Status Quo Preference and Voting Behavior: A Comment on Bisbee and Honig By Malmberg, Alice; Scates, Daniel
  13. The Populist Voter: A Machine Learning Approach for the Individual Characteristics By K. Peren Arin; Efstathios Polyzos; Marcel Thum
  14. Paradoxical Oddities in Two Multiwinner Elections from Scotland By Adam Graham-Squire; David McCune
  15. Political Turnover Negatively Affects the Quality of Public Services: A Replication By Gallegos, Sebastian
  16. International Attitudes Toward Global Policies By Adrien Fabre; Thomas Douenne; Linus Mattauch
  17. Do Green Users Become Green Voters? By Diego A. Comin; Johannes Rode

  1. By: Marcus Ogren
    Abstract: We evaluate the tendency for different voting methods to promote political compromise and reduce tensions in a society by using computer simulations to determine which voters candidates are incentivized to appeal to. We find that Instant Runoff Voting incentivizes candidates to appeal to a wider range of voters than single-winner Plurality Voting, but that it still leaves candidates far more strongly incentivized to appeal to their base than to voters in opposing factions. In contrast, we find that other voting methods, including STAR (Score Then Automatic Runoff) Voting and Condorcet methods, incentivize candidates to appeal to currently-opposed voters as much to their base, and that these differences between voting methods become more pronounced the more candidates are in the race.
    Date: 2023–06
  2. By: Daryna Grechyna (Department of Economic Theory and Economic History, University of Granada.)
    Abstract: This paper examines the evolution of public policies before the scheduled political elections based on the government responses to the Covid pandemic. The results of an event study in a sample of countries that experienced political elections during the first year of the pandemic suggest that “lockdown style” policies were more stringent the further away countries were from election dates. The gradual relaxation of “lockdown style” restrictions ahead of the elections was driven by policies in low income, less democratic countries, and countries with relatively low social trust. Covid-related “economic support” policies were not significantly affected by the scheduled political elections. Placebo tests based on a random sample of countries that did not experience political elections in the first year of the pandemic confirm the validity of the results.
    Keywords: political cycles; event study; Covid pandemic.
    JEL: D72 C23 O57
    Date: 2023–07–04
  3. By: Bernini, Andrea (University of Oxford); Facchini, Giovanni (University of Nottingham); Tabellini, Marco (Harvard Business School); Testa, Cecilia (University of Nottingham)
    Abstract: The 1965 Voting Rights Act (VRA) paved the road to Black empowerment. How did southern whites respond? Leveraging newly digitized data on county-level voter registration rates by race between 1956 and 1980, and exploiting pre-determined variation in exposure to the federal intervention, we document that the VRA increases both Black and white political participation. Consistent with the VRA triggering countermobilization, the surge in white registrations is concentrated where Black political empowerment is more tangible and salient due to the election of African Americans in county commissions. Additional analysis suggests that the VRA has long-lasting negative effects on whites' racial attitudes.
    Keywords: civil rights, race, voting behavior, enfranchisement
    JEL: D72 J15 H70 N92
    Date: 2023–06
  4. By: Gulzar, Saad (Princeton University); Khan, Muhammed Yasir (University of Pittsburgh)
    Abstract: How can we motivate good politicians – those that will carry out policy that is responsive to citizens' preferences – to enter politics? In a field experiment in Pakistan, we vary how political office is portrayed to ordinary citizens. We find that emphasizing prosocial motives for holding political office instead of personal returns – such as the ability to help others versus enhancing one's own respect and status – raises the likelihood that individuals run for office and that voters elect them. It also better aligns subsequent policies with citizens’ preferences. We further find that social versus personal messaging only matters when randomly delivered in a public setting, suggesting that the extrinsic calculus is particularly important in candidacy decisions. Taken together, the results demonstrate that how politics is perceived in democracies shapes political entry as well as policy outcomes.
    Keywords: political selection, policy-making, state capacity
    JEL: O12 D72 H75
    Date: 2023–05
  5. By: Amrita Dhillon; Grammateia Kotsialou; Dilip Ravindran; Dimitrios Xefteris
    Abstract: Liquid democracy is a system that combines aspects of direct democracy and representative democracy by allowing voters to either vote directly themselves, or delegate their votes to others. In this paper we study the information aggregation properties of liquid democracy in a setting with heterogeneously informed truth-seeking voters -- who want the election outcome to match an underlying state of the world -- and partisan voters. We establish that liquid democracy admits equilibria which improve welfare and information aggregation over direct and representative democracy when voters' preferences and information precisions are publicly or privately known. Liquid democracy also admits equilibria which do worse than the other two systems. We discuss features of efficient and inefficient equilibria and provide conditions under which voters can more easily coordinate on the efficient equilibria in liquid democracy than the other two systems.
    Date: 2023–06
  6. By: Mallory Dickerson; Erin Martin; David McCune
    Abstract: In ranked-choice elections voters cast preference ballots which provide a voter's ranking of the candidates. The method of ranked-choice voting (RCV) chooses a winner by using voter preferences to simulate a series of runoff elections. Some jurisdictions which use RCV limit the number of candidates that voters can rank on the ballot, imposing what we term a truncation level, which is the number of candidates that voters are allowed to rank. Given fixed voter preferences, the winner of the election can change if we impose different truncation levels. We use a database of 1171 real-world ranked-choice elections to empirically analyze the potential effects of imposing different truncation levels in ranked-choice elections. Our general finding is that if the truncation level is at least three then restricting the number of candidates which can be ranked on the ballot rarely affects the election winner.
    Date: 2023–06
  7. By: Fabio Padovano (CREM-CNRS, Condorcet Center for Political Economy, University of Rennes 1 and DSP, Università Roma Tre, Italy); Pauline Mille (University of Rennes 1, CNRS, CREM-UMR 62 11)
    Abstract: This paper empirically verifies whether education, an indicator of voters’ ability to process information, constrains political budget cycles (PBC), a measure of inefficiency in the agency relationship between voters and their representatives. Over information and the spread of fake news question the previous results of conditional PBC literature on information as a factor improving such relationship. We proxy the quality of education by PISA scores and the its diffusion by the percentage of students completing secondary and tertiary education. On a sample of 46 countries over the period 2000-2019, the estimates show that higher levels of education reduce the magnitude of PBC. Adding standard proxies for information (media and internet penetration) does not affect the results, showing that education matters more than information. The analysis also evidences differences between higher and lower degrees of democracy. All the other findings of the literature appear confirmed.
    Keywords: Political Budget Cycles, education, information processing, fake news, democracy.
    JEL: D72 E62 D83 D91
    Date: 2023–06
  8. By: Benjamin Monnery (EconomiX, Universite Paris Nanterre); Alexandre Chirat (EconomiX, Universite Paris Nanterre)
    Abstract: In Western democracies, recent decades have seen a transformation of the relationship between citizens and their representatives towards greater accountability, transparency, and anti-corruption efforts. However, such developments are sometimes suspected of paradoxically fueling populism and diminishing political trust. We investigate the extent to which a new public institution tasked with monitoring the integrity of elected officials is likely to attract popular support and restore citizens' trust in democracy. We focus on France and its main anti-corruption agency, the High Authority for the Transparency of Public Life (HATVP), set up in 2013. We run a survey among 3, 000 representative citizens and 33 experts, and augment it with an experimental treatment where we randomly provide simple, concise information on the HATVP's activity and track record. Our results first show a large divergence between the opinions of the average citizen and the more optimistic views of experts about the state and dynamics of political integrity in France. Second, we find that citizens have heterogeneous beliefs and that those most distrustful of politicians are not only more likely to vote for populist candidates or abstain, but are also the least informed about the anticorruption agency. Third, our information provision experiment has meaningful, positive impacts on citizens' perceptions of the HATVP, political transparency, and representative democracy. We show that some of the greatest impacts are found among initially distrustful and poorly informed citizens, underscoring the potential for communication and information to change the political perceptions and attitudes of disillusioned citizens.
    Keywords: corruption, integrity, political trust, populism, survey experiment
    JEL: C99 D72 M48 P37
    Date: 2023–04
  9. By: Eric Kamwa (LC2S - Laboratoire caribéen de sciences sociales - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - UA - Université des Antilles)
    Abstract: Preference Approval Voting (PAV) and Fallback Voting (FV) are two voting rules that combine approval and preferences. They were first introduced by Brams and Sanver (2009). Under PAV, voters rank the candidates and indicate which ones they approve of; with FV, they rank only those candidates they approve of. In this paper, we supplement the work of Brams and Sanver (2009) by exploring some other normative properties of FV and PAV. We show among other that FV and PAV satisfy and fail the same criteria; they possess two properties that AV does not: Pareto optimality and the fact of always electing the absolute Condorcet winner when he exists. For threecandidate elections and a very large electorate, we compare FV and PAV to other voting rules by evaluating the probabilities of satisfying the Condorcet majority criteria. We find that PAV performs better than the Borda rule. We also find that in terms of agreement, FV and PAV are closer to scoring rules than to Approval voting. Our analysis is performed under the Impartial Anonymous Culture assumption.
    Keywords: Approval Voting, Rankings, Condorcet, Properties, Impartial and Anonymous Culture
    Date: 2023
  10. By: (Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile, Instituto de Economıa); Felipe Gonzalez (Queen Mary University of London, School of Economics and Finance.)
    Abstract: Vaccines are responsible for large increases in human welfare and yet we know little about the political impacts of publicly-managed vaccination campaigns. We fill this gap by studying the case of Chile, which offers a rare combination of a high-stakes election, voluntary voting, and a vaccination process halfway implemented by election day. Crucially, the roll-out of vaccines relied on exogenous eligibility rules which we combine with a pre-analysis plan for causal identification. We find that higher vaccination rates boost political participation and empower challengers irrespective of their party affiliation. Survey evidence suggests that vaccines could have increased preferences for challengers by lowering decision-related anxiety.
    Keywords: vaccines, politics, election, challengers
    Date: 2023–06–21
  11. By: Holbein, John B.; Hassell, Hans (Florida State University)
    Abstract: George Floyd's 2020 murder at the hands of police officers from the Minneapolis Police Department catalyzed thousands of citizens to take to the streets---protesting, rallying, and marching in communities across the United States (and beyond). But did Floyd's murder also affect citizens' broader political actions? In this paper, we employ a unique combination of large-scale validated nationwide voting records that cover all 50 states and the approximately 200 million citizens registered to vote therein and Black Lives Matter (BLM) protest location and timing data from the Crowd Counting Consortium (CCC). We pair these unique datasets with a regression discontinuity in time (RDiT) approach that leverages the precise timing of the police killing of George Floyd and the precise day of protests and voter registrations. We show that in addition to mobilizing citizens to protest in the streets, George Floyd's death caused thousands of citizens to register to vote. Many of these additional registrants were minorities, youth, Democrats, and low income individuals---groups that are historically less likely to register to vote. However, George Floyd's death also mobilized a substantial number of white, older, Republicans, and higher income to register to vote. The effects we observe vary substantially across the U.S.; being larger in areas where BLM protests occurred and being considerably larger in some states than others. Simultaneously, however, increases in registration are present in both in historically red and blue states. When put into the context of other highly-salient tragedies---which often have small to null effects on citizens' rates of voter registration---the untimely death of George Floyd stands out as one that had the indirect consequence of mobilizing many citizens who come from marginalized, demobilized, and political disenfranchised backgrounds.
    Date: 2023–06–07
  12. By: Malmberg, Alice; Scates, Daniel
    Abstract: Bisbee and Honig (2022) examine the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on voting for Bernie Sanders in the 2020 Democratic Party primary using a difference-in-differences design, finding evidence that exposure to COVID-19 resulted in a 7-15 percentage point increase in voting for Biden. The study also uses a regression design with district-level fixed effects to estimate the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on voting for anti-establishment candidates during the US 2020 House primaries. It finds evidence that an increase in COVID cases was associated with a decline in voting for anti-establishment candidates in general, and for those endorsed by the Tea Party. We re-run the code for all tests in this paper, successfully reproducing its results in a preliminary replication. We then use the De Chaisemartin and D'Haultfoeuille difference-in-differences estimator to replicate their main results, finding that though the coefficient remains negative, the results are not statistically significant. We also replicate their tests regarding US House primary candidates using a different measure of anti-establishment candidates. Here, we find that the interaction term between anti-establishment candidates and COVID-19 remain statistically significant, with the same sign. Finally, we employ an expanded dataset that includes Congressional primary candidates that were omitted in the initial dataset, as well as a re-coded extremism variable that also includes candidates endorsed by Donald Trump. These updated findings corroborate the paper's initial results. However, due to a restrictive number of observations that interfered with our application of the De Chaisemartin and D'Haultfoeuille estimator, we believe that the expanded U.S. House primary results constitute the more robust half of our replication.
    Date: 2023
  13. By: K. Peren Arin; Efstathios Polyzos; Marcel Thum
    Abstract: Populist parties recently have shaken Western democracies, yet there is no consensus regarding the characteristics of populist voters. By using large-scale surveys from four European countries (France, Germany, Spain, and the U.K.), we investigate individual determinants of populist voting. Our methodological approach controls for model uncertainty by considering the responses to 100 questions that span social, economic, political, environmental, and psychological dimensions. We also include individual misperceptions across several domains. Our results show that left-wing populist voters are not religious, have lower misperceptions regarding foreign-national prisoners, distrust the police, are open to immigrants from poorer countries, and oppose dismantling the welfare state. The right-wing populist voters oppose incoming, racially diverse immigrants, distrust national and international institutions, and have high misperceptions regarding immigrant crimes and the share of social benefits in the GDP. Contrary to the previous literature, attitudes toward globalization, personality traits, labor-market status, and social media use are not consensus variables for either group.
    Keywords: populism, random forest, Bayesian model averaging
    JEL: C11 D72 P48
    Date: 2023
  14. By: Adam Graham-Squire; David McCune
    Abstract: Ranked-choice voting anomalies such as monotonicity paradoxes have been extensively studied through creating hypothetical examples and generating elections under various models of voter behavior. However, very few real-world examples of such voting paradoxes have been found and analyzed. We investigate two single-transferable vote elections from Scotland that demonstrate upward monotonicity, downward monotonicity, no-show, and committee size paradoxes. These paradoxes are rarely observed in real-world elections, and this article is the first case study of such paradoxes in multiwinner elections.
    Date: 2023–05
  15. By: Gallegos, Sebastian
    Abstract: The politically motivated replacement in local governments is a pervasive fact in our modern democracies. Whether it has causal effects on the quality of public services, such as education, is a critical question and yet understudied. This paper uses a regression discontinuity design (RDD) for close elections to replicate Akthari, Moreira and Trucco (2022) who find negative effects on the quality of public education in Brazil (.05-.08 standard deviations of lower test scores). I first reproduce these main results, finding minor computational differences that have no effect on the conclusions. I also show that the estimates for Brazil are in general robust to different specifications following Brodeur, Cook and Heyes (2020). Finally, I implement the same RDD framework now applied to Chilean administrative records to find null effects on test scores. Taken together, these results suggest that political turnover has weakly negative effects on service quality.
    Keywords: Replication, Robustness, Political Turnover, Regression Discontinuity, Quality of Public Services
    JEL: D72 D73 H75 H76 J45 O17
    Date: 2023
  16. By: Adrien Fabre; Thomas Douenne; Linus Mattauch
    Abstract: We document majority support for policies entailing global redistribution and climate mitigation. Recent surveys on 40, 680 respondents in 20 countries covering 72% of global carbon emissions show strong support for an effective and progressive way to combat climate change and poverty: a global carbon price funding a global basic income, called the “Global Climate Scheme” (GCS). Using complementary surveys on 8, 000 respondents in the U.S., France, Germany, Spain, and the UK, we test several hypotheses that could reconcile strong stated support with a lack of salience in policy circles. A list experiment shows no evidence of social desirability bias, majorities are willing to sign a real-stake petition, and global redistribution ranks high in the prioritization of policies. Conjoint analyses reveal that a platform is more likely to be preferred if it contains the GCS or a global tax on millionaires. Universalistic attitudes are confirmed by an incentivized donation. In sum, our findings indicate that global policies are genuinely supported by a majority of the population. Public opinion is therefore not the reason that they do not prominently enter political debates.
    Keywords: Climate change, global policies, cap-and-trade, attitudes, survey
    JEL: P48 Q58 H23 Q54
    Date: 2023–06–20
  17. By: Diego A. Comin; Johannes Rode
    Abstract: We estimate the causal effect of the diffusion of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems on the fraction of Green Party votes in federal and state elections in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. Our estimates are based on instruments that induce exogenous variation in roof appropriateness to PV installation. We find that PV adoption had a strong positive effect on Green Party votes. The effect is connected to the direct engagement of households with the PV system and does not reflect reciprocity to economic gains from PV. Our estimates likely reveal changing attitudes towards environmentally friendly values after adopting PV produced by cognitive dissonance.
    JEL: O14 O33 Q48 Q58
    Date: 2023–06

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