nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2023‒10‒30
eighteen papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu, University of Calgary

  1. Population Aging and the Rise of Populist Attitudes in Europe By Despina Gavresi; Andreas Irmen; Anastasia Litina
  2. Young Politicians and Long-Term Policy By Ricardo Dahis; Ivan de las Heras; Santiago Saavedra
  3. Voting Age, Information Experiments, and Political Engagement: Evidence from a General Election By Keefer, Philip; Vlaicu, Razvan
  4. The political economy of finance and regulatory capture: Evidence from the US Congress By Silano, Filippo
  5. Climate Change and Political Participation: Evidence from India By Amrit Amirapu; Irma Clots-Figueras; Juan Pablo Rud
  6. The effects of gender political inclusion and democracy on environmental performance: evidence from the method of moments by quantile regression By Simplice A. Asongu; Cheikh T. Ndour; Judith C. M. Ngoungou
  7. When Women Win: Can Female Representation Decrease Gender-Based Violence? By Frisancho, Verónica; Pappa, Evi; Santantonio, Chiara
  8. Gender and Electoral Incentives: Evidence from Crisis Response By Chauvin, Juan Pablo; Tricaud, Clemence
  9. Voting for income redistribution in a dynamic-income experiment By Tongzhe Li; Bradley J. Ruffle
  10. Why Do Voters Support Procyclical Fiscal Policies? Experimental Evidence from Latin America By Ardanaz, Martín; Hübscher, Evelyne; Keefer, Philip; Sattler, Thomas
  11. The West versus Beijing? Determinants of the UN Human Rights Council vote (not) to debate human rights in Xinjiang By Hendrix, Cullen; Noland, Marcus
  12. Can political gridlock undermine checks and balances? A lab experiment By Alvaro Forteza; Irene Mussio; Juan S Pereyra
  13. The reductionism of genopolitics in the context of the relationships between biology and political science By Wajzer, Mateusz
  14. Too Fragile to Succeed? Electoral Strength, Austerity and Economic Confidence By Wang, Chendi; Ferrara, Federico Maria; Sattler, Thomas
  15. How Do Political Tensions and Geopolitical Risks Impact Oil Prices? By Valérie Mignon; Jamel Saadaoui
  16. The Streets Speak: Unravelling the Impact of Austerity on Public Protests during the the Great Recession By Wang, Chendi
  17. Power Mismatch and Civil Conflict:An Empirical Investigation By Massimo Morelli; Laura Ogliari; Long Hong
  18. Overconfidence and Gun Preferences: How Behavioral Biases Affect Your Safety By Cafferata, Fernando G.; Domínguez, Patricio; Scartascini, Carlos

  1. By: Despina Gavresi (DEM, Université du Luxembourg); Andreas Irmen (DEM, Université du Luxembourg); Anastasia Litina (University of Macedonia, Thessaloniki, GR)
    Abstract: In the light of the rise in populism in Europe, this paper empirically explores the interplay between population aging and populist attitudes. We test this hypothesis by conducting a multilevel analysis of individuals living in European countries over the period 2002-2019. Our measure of population aging is the country’s old-age dependency ratio, thus we focus on population or societal aging as opposed to individual aging. Populist attitudes are derived from individual-level data that provide information about voting for populist parties, political trust and attitudes towards immigration available in nine consecutive rounds of the European Social Survey. Our findings suggest that societal aging is associated with a fall in trust in national and European institutions and a rise in attitudes against immigrants. There are two potential mechanisms driving our results. First, a shift in the median voter age. Older people tend to be more conservative, voting more for right-wing populist parties and this is reflected on the median vote and attitude as well. The second mechanism appeals to the impact that the presence of the “old” group in the society has on the society and the economy as a whole, it is thus more of an “externality” effect. Living in an aging society, young people are aware of the fact that they have to cater for a large share of old people and this gives rise to different incentives and attitudes compared to individuals living in “young” societies
    Keywords: Population Aging, Populist Vote, Immigrant Attitudes, Trust.
    JEL: D72 J10 P16 Z13
    Date: 2023
  2. By: Ricardo Dahis (Department of Economics, Monash University); Ivan de las Heras (Department of Economics, Southern Methodist University); Santiago Saavedra (Department of Economics, Universidad del Rosario)
    Abstract: Policies often entail costs today but benefits only far into the future, as in climate change mitigation. An essential aspect of how this trade-off is faced relates to how young are the politicians in power. We study closely contested elections in Brazil and show that young politicians reduce deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions with no significant effects on local income. We further show that young politicians invest in long-term policy and hire more young bureaucrats. Our results suggest a cohort effect: young politicians matter not because of their age, but because they are part of a new generation.
    Keywords: Climate change mitigation, Deforestation, Young politicians, Political selection
    JEL: P18 Q23 Q54
    Date: 2023–10
  3. By: Keefer, Philip; Vlaicu, Razvan
    Abstract: We exploit new experimental and quasi-experimental data to investigate voters' intrinsic motivation to engage politically. Does having the right to vote increase engagement or, given significant incentives to free ride, do eligible voters remain rationally unengaged? Does knowledge that ones group is pivotal reduce free riding? And are the politically engaged influenced by election-relevant policy information in the run-up to a major election? To address these questions, we fielded an original survey of 5, 400 Mexican high school seniors just prior to the historic 2018 general election. Age-based regression discontinuity results show that the just-eligible score higher on measures of low-cost political engagement compared to the just-ineligible. A first survey experiment reveals that information that the youth vote will be pivotal increases the eligible respondents' interest in the presidential debate and in the election result. In the second experiment, information about current policy outcomes affects future policy priorities in ways consistent with the incentives of eligible respondents to collect relevant information on salient policy issues.
    Keywords: Political engagement;Free riding;Pivotal voters;Policy information
    JEL: D73 H83
    Date: 2022–12
  4. By: Silano, Filippo
    Abstract: The 2007-08 Global Financial Crisis is a watershed phenomenon that reshaped global capitalism. Stemming from the argument that the Crisis was caused by deregulation, this article assesses to what extent the financial industry influenced the legislative process underlying these reforms. The hypothesis is that, during the deregulation process, the financial industry captured lawmakers' voting behaviour. Drawing on a logistic regression model, this study estimates to what extent 106th -109th Congress roll call votes on financial liberalisation were biased by industry-led campaign contributions and lobbying activities. The main finding shows that members of the US Congress recipient of funding from the financial sector were more prone to support deregulation. Providing systematic empirical evidence of capture, the results support the literature labelling the Crisis as the result of industry-induced deregulation.
    Keywords: political economy, financial crisis, deregulation, capture, campaign finance, lobbying, US Congress, voting behaviour, logistic regression
    JEL: G01 G18 K22 K23 P16
    Date: 2023
  5. By: Amrit Amirapu (University of Kent); Irma Clots-Figueras (University of Kent/IZA); Juan Pablo Rud (University of London/IZA/Institute of Fiscal Studies)
    Abstract: We study the effects of temperature shocks on electoral outcomes in Indian elections. Taking advantage of localized, high-frequency data on temperatures, we find that exposure to extreme temperatures the year before an election increases voter turnout, changes the composition of the candidate pool, and leads to different electoral outcomes (e.g. winning candidates are more likely to have an agricultural background). The effects are driven by reductions in agricultural productivity and are strongest in rural areas. We also show that temperature shocks increase the value voters place on agricultural issues and on policies which mitigate the effects of extreme temperatures, such as irrigation.
    Date: 2023–10
  6. By: Simplice A. Asongu (Johannesburg, South Africa); Cheikh T. Ndour (Dakar, Senegal); Judith C. M. Ngoungou (Yaoundé, Cameroon)
    Abstract: Motivated by the difficulty of ensuring gender equality and the chaotic state of democracy, we analyze the effects of gender political inclusion and democracy on environmental policy performance. The study uses a panel of 45 African countries over the period 2012-2018 and employs the method of moments by quantile regression. The results show that, gender political inclusion and democracy positively affect environmental performance in all quantiles. These positive effects tend to be stronger at higher quantiles. The magnitude is larger for gender political inclusion. When performance is decomposed into the sub-indices of environmental health and ecosystem vitality, positive effects of gender political inclusion and democracy are observed in all quantiles. The effects are larger for the gender dimension than for the democracy dimension, regardless of the sub-index used.
    Keywords: Gender political inclusion; democracy; environmental performance; regression quantile method of moments; Africa
    JEL: J13 Q56 C31 C33
    Date: 2023–01
  7. By: Frisancho, Verónica; Pappa, Evi; Santantonio, Chiara
    Abstract: Every day, three women are murdered in the United States by a current or former partner. Yet policy action to prevent gender-based violence has been limited. Previous studies have highlighted the effect of female political representation on crimes against women in the developing world. This paper investigates whether the election of a female politician reduces the incidence of gender-based violence in the United States. Using a regression discontinuity design on mixed-gender races, we find that the election of a female House Representative leads to a short-lived decline in the prevalence of femicides in her electoral district. The drop in femicides is mainly driven by a deterrence effect that results from higher police responsiveness and effort in solving gender-related crimes.
    JEL: D72 J12 J16
    Date: 2022–10
  8. By: Chauvin, Juan Pablo; Tricaud, Clemence
    Abstract: While there is evidence of gender differences in leaders behavior, less is known about what drives these gaps. This paper uncovers the role of electoral incentives. Using a close election regression discontinuity design in Brazil, we first show that female mayors handled the COVID-19 crisis differently over the year 2020, which ended with new municipal elections. We find that having a female mayor led to more deaths per capita at the beginning of the pandemic – a period characterized by uncertainty about the severity of the threat – but to fewer deaths per capita later in the year – a period where this uncertainty was reduced. We provide additional evidence that female mayors were less likely to close non-essential businesses early on, and more likely to do so at the end, and that residents in female-led municipalities were more likely to stay at home in the weeks surrounding the election. We then show that these results can be rationalized by a simple political agency model where politicians seek re-election and where voters assess female and male politicians actions differently. Consistent with this interpretation, we show that the gender differences we find are driven exclusively by mayors who were not term-limited and thus allowed to run for re-election, and that the effects are stronger in municipalities with greater gender discrimination. Taken together, the results suggest that female and male leaders face different electoral incentives and adapt their policy decisions to voters expectations.
    Keywords: Electoral incentives
    JEL: D72 J16 I18
    Date: 2022–09
  9. By: Tongzhe Li; Bradley J. Ruffle
    Abstract: We design a laboratory experiment to investigate how income redistribution preferences respond to income mobility, income source, own income level and ideological beliefs. Own income is by far the strongest determinant of voting behavior for redistribution. High- (low-) income earners vote for low (high) rates of redistribution regardless of how their income was determined and of their previous-stage income. An intriguing element in our experimental design is that middle-income individuals have no such self-interest in the voting outcome, since their income remains unchanged regardless of the redistribution rate. We find these participants’ voting displays an affinity with low-income earners, which points to individuals’ predisposition to favoring high levels of redistribution. However, their relatively high support for redistribution is situational: it disappears when they have high incomes.
    Keywords: : income redistribution; taxes; voting; social mobility; experimental economics
    JEL: C91 D01
    Date: 2023–10
  10. By: Ardanaz, Martín; Hübscher, Evelyne; Keefer, Philip; Sattler, Thomas
    Abstract: Governments often pursue procyclical fiscal policies, even though they reduce voter welfare. Is this because voters actually prefer procyclical policies? The analysis in this paper exploits the first individual-level evidence from an original survey of 12, 000 respondents in 8 countries across Latin America. Prior research links support for procyclical policy to imperfect voter information but does not explore voter knowledge of the composition of public spending increases and cuts in response to positive and negative shocks. We present experimental evidence that less informed individuals are more supportive of procyclical policy. Previous work also explores how trust in politicians influences fiscal policy preferences. We find that those who distrust politicians support acyclical fiscal policies: they are skeptical that they will benefit from higher government spending after positive shocks and be spared the costs of spending cuts after negative shocks. Finally, the evidence supports untested assumptions about voter patience and risk aversion. Patient respondents care more about the future costs of procyclical policy and risk-averse respondents about its higher volatility; support for acyclical policy is correspondingly higher among both groups.
    Keywords: asymmetric information;Trust;patience;risk aversion;procyclical fiscal policy
    JEL: D72 D82 E02 E62
    Date: 2023–04
  11. By: Hendrix, Cullen; Noland, Marcus
    Abstract: This paper addresses the factors shaping the vote of member states on the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) regarding whether to debate human rights conditions in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region of China. Explanations for the UNHRC’s decision not to debate human rights in Xinjiang fall into three categories: 1) democracy, development, and human rights performance; 2) demographic factors; and 3) security and economic ties to major powers, specifically the United States and China. Bayesian model averaging identifies three factors as robust covariates of the Xinjiang UNHRC vote: liberal democratic domestic institutions, NATO membership, and Chinese arms transfers. Countries with higher democracy scores and NATO member countries were more likely to vote yes, while recipients of Chinese arms transfers were more likely to vote no. In addition to its direct effect, liberal democracy exerts a significant indirect effect via its effect on Chinese arms transfers, with less democratic countries more likely to receive Chinese arms. Participation in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is not a robust correlate when arms transfers are considered. Thus, our analysis lends support to interpreting the vote as a reflection of wider competition between the United States and China but rejects part of the conventional wisdom about how the two countries approach building and mobilizing coalitions in international institutions.
    Keywords: China, arms transfers, Belt and Road Initiative, Xinjiang, United National Human Rights Council
    JEL: D7 D72 D74 F53 F55 H56
    Date: 2023–09–19
  12. By: Alvaro Forteza; Irene Mussio; Juan S Pereyra
    Abstract: If checks and balances are aimed at protecting citizens from the government's abuse of power, why do they sometimes weaken them? We address this question in a laboratory experiment in which subjects choose between two decision rules: with and without checks and balances. Voters may prefer an unchecked executive if that enables a reform that, otherwise, is blocked by the legislature. Consistent with our predictions, we find that subjects are more likely to weaken checks and balances when there is political gridlock. However, subjects weaken the controls not only when the reform is beneficial but also when it is harmful.
    Date: 2023–09
  13. By: Wajzer, Mateusz
    Abstract: The past two decades have seen an increase in the use of theories, data, assumptions and methods of the biological sciences in studying political phenomena. One of the approaches that combine biology with political science is genopolitics. The goal of the study was to analyse the basic ontological, methodological and epistemological assumptions for the reductionism of genopolitics. The results show that genopolitics assumes methodological reductionism but rejects ontological and epistemological reductionism. The key consequences of the findings are the irreducibility of political science to biology and the complementarity of genopolitical explanations and political science explanations based on culturalism. If my findings prove to be correct, they give rise to the formation of a hypothesis regarding the anti-reductionist orientation of the contemporary links between political science and biology. An important step towards confirming or falsifying such a hypothesis will be exploring the reductionism of contemporary biopolitical approaches such as neuropolitics or evolutionary political psychology.
    Keywords: reductionism, genopolitics, biology, political science, political attitudes and behaviours
    JEL: Z00
    Date: 2022–10–06
  14. By: Wang, Chendi (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam); Ferrara, Federico Maria; Sattler, Thomas (University of Geneva)
    Abstract: In the wake of the Great Recession, European governments implemented harsh fiscal austerity measures to restore economic confidence. Yet, the economic success of these policies varied significantly. This raises the question of whether and under what conditions austerity is an effective policy strategy to restore economic stability. This study shows that the impact of austerity on economic confidence is conditioned by an important political factor, namely the electoral strength of the government. Our macro-level time series analysis tracks the impact of austerity announcements on economic confidence over time in 15 European countries during the Great Recession, showing that austerity leads to a decrease in economic confidence. However, the negative impact is substantially smaller when austerity is announced by an electorally strong government vis-à-vis a fragile one. Our individual-level survey experiment with a total of 7, 500 respondents in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain indicates that the negative effects of spending cuts on both pocketbook and sociotropic concerns are particularly pronounced when austerity policies are announced by governments that are losing electoral support. Austerity, therefore, is perceived as more credible and effective when carried out by electorally strong governments compared to weak ones.
    Date: 2023–09–19
  15. By: Valérie Mignon; Jamel Saadaoui
    Abstract: This paper assesses the effect of US-China political relationships and geopolitical risks on oil prices. To this end, we consider two quantitative measures, the Political Relationship Index (PRI) and the Geopolitical Risk Index (GPR), and rely on structural VAR and local projection methodologies. Our findings show that improved US-China relationships, as well as higher geopolitical risks, drive up the price of oil. In fact, unexpected shocks in the political relationship index are associated with optimistic expectations of economic activity, whereas unexpected shocks in the geopolitical risk index also reflect fears of supply disruption. Political tensions and geopolitical risks are thus complementary causal drivers of oil prices, the former being linked to consumer expectations and the latter to the prospects of aggregate markets.
    Keywords: Oil prices, political relationships, geopolitical risk, China.
    JEL: Q4 F51 C32
    Date: 2023
  16. By: Wang, Chendi (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)
    Abstract: This paper examines the impact of austerity policy announcements on protest mobilisation in 16 European countries during the Great Recession. It argues that austerity policies politicised grievances and enabled blame attribution, while institutional constraints and protest fatigue dampened reactions to later policies. Using monthly protest event data and systematically coded austerity policy announcements, the study utilises an interrupted time series design to analyse austerity announcements as shocks to protest levels. The findings indicate that earlier austerity announcements significantly increased economic protest levels, while later announcements had no effect or even decreased protest. Furthermore, the impact of austerity on protest was conditioned by economic and political contexts. Austerity had a larger effect when accompanied by rising unemployment, worsening household finances, external actor involvement, and higher prior protest levels. The study contributes to understanding varied public reactions to austerity and the dynamics between economic crisis, government policies, and contentious politics.
    Date: 2023–09–19
  17. By: Massimo Morelli; Laura Ogliari; Long Hong
    Abstract: This paper empirically shows that the imbalance between an ethnic group’s political and military power is crucial to understanding the likelihood that such a group engages in a conflict. We develop a novel measure of a group’s military power by combiningmachine learning techniques with rich data on ethnic group characteristics and outcomes of civil conflicts in Africa and theMiddle East. We couple thismeasure with available indicators of an ethnic group’s political power as well as with a novel proxy based on information about the ethnicity of cabinet members. We find that groups characterized by a highermismatch betweenmilitary and political power are between 30% and 50% more likely to engage in a conflict against their government dependingon the specification used. We also find that the effects of power mismatch are nonlinear, which is in agreement with the predictions of a simplemodel that accounts for the cost of conflict. Moreover, our results suggest that high-mismatched groups are typically involved in larger and centrist conflicts. The policy implication is that powersharing recommendations and institutional design policies for peace should consider primarily the reduction of power mismatches between relevant groups, rather than focusing exclusively on equalizing political power in isolation. Keywords:Civil War, Military Power, Political Power, Mismatch, Machine Learning
    Date: 2023
  18. By: Cafferata, Fernando G.; Domínguez, Patricio; Scartascini, Carlos
    Abstract: Overconfidence leads to risky behavior, including when people are around guns. Does overconfidence also shape attitudes about gun ownership and use? We evaluate this possibility by conducting nationally representative surveys in six countries in the Americas, including the United States. Results show that overconfident individuals are more willing to accept the use of guns and more likely to declare their willingness to use guns. These results indicate that overconfidence is a significant behavioral trait correlated with attitudes toward weapons handling, ownership, carrying, and use. Overall, over-confidence could lead, in equilibrium, to lower regulation than optimal and a higher amount of guns, even before considering the effect of the electoral system, lobbying, and campaign contributions. Efforts to correct the biases of individuals confronted with making decisions about guns should be a priority, especially in regulatory contexts. Information about actual performance and the risks entailed by wrong choices is a must. Obliging individuals to reflect on their choices may also help correct observed biases.
    Keywords: Overconfidence;Gun attitudes;Gun behavior;Crime;behavioral biases
    JEL: D91 K40 D72
    Date: 2023–04

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