nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2023‒11‒20
fourteen papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu, University of Calgary

  1. Unveiling or Concealing Aspirations: How candidate gender influences voter response to political ambition By ENDO Yuya; ONO Yoshikuni
  2. Monotonicity Failure in Ranked Choice Voting -- Necessary and Sufficient Conditions for 3-Candidate Elections By Rylie Weaver
  3. Social Preferences and Redistributive Politics By Ernst Fehr; Thomas Epper; Julien Senn
  4. Gender Differences in Leadership Style Preferences By ONO Yoshikuni
  5. From the Death of God to the Rise of Hitler By Sascha O. Becker, Sascha O; Voth, Hans-Joachim
  6. Immigration and Nationalism in the Long Run By Valentin Lang; Stephan A. Schneider
  7. Accommodation of Right-Wing Populist Rhetoric: Evidence From Parliamentary Speeches in Germany By Emilio Esguerra; Felix Hagemeister; Julian Heid; Tim Leffler
  8. Are the upwardly mobile more left-wing? By Andrew E. Clark; Maria Cotofan
  9. How Inequality Shapes Political Participation: The Role of Spatial Patterns of Political Competition By Francesc Amat; Pablo Beramendi; Miriam Hortas-Rico; Vicente Rios
  10. Bound by Borders: Voter Mobilization through Social Networks By Gary W. Cox; Jon H. Fiva; Max-Emil M. King
  11. “Compensate the Losers?” Economic Policy and Partisan Realignment in the US By Ilyana Kuziemko; Nicolas Longuet Marx; Suresh Naidu
  12. Norms of Corruption in Politicians’ Malfeasance By Gustavo J. Bobonis; Anke Kessler; Xin Zhao
  13. Majority rule as a unique voting method in elections with multiple candidates By Mateusz Krukowski
  14. The minimal effects of union membership on political attitudes By Yan, Alan Nigel

  1. By: ENDO Yuya; ONO Yoshikuni
    Abstract: Do male and female candidates equally benefit from disclosing their political ambitions during electoral campaigns? Generally, candidates for elective office are politically ambitious individuals vying for positions of power. There is a pervasive stereotype of women that sees them as ideally modest and reserved, which is potentially contradictory to the seemingly masculine nature of political office. Voters swayed by this stereotype may not reward female candidates for openly expressing their political ambitions to the same extent they would male candidates. To investigate this issue, we conducted a vignette experiment where both the candidate’s gender and their stated motivation for seeking office were randomly manipulated. Our findings reveal that respondents favored candidates—regardless of gender—who were transparent about their political ambition. Nevertheless, male candidates who openly displayed ambition were perceived as more favorable among voters, whereas female candidates did not receive a comparable boost to their image. These results indicate that the electoral benefits garnered from revealing political ambitions are not equally distributed between men and women.
    Date: 2023–10
  2. By: Rylie Weaver
    Abstract: Ranked choice voting is vulnerable to monotonicity failure - a voting failure where a candidate is cost an election due to losing voter preference or granted an election due to gaining voter preference. Despite increasing use of ranked choice voting at the time of writing of this paper, the frequency of monotonicity failure is still a very open question. This paper builds on previous work to develop conditions which can be used to test if it's possible that monotonicity failure has happened in a 3-candidate ranked choice voting election.
    Date: 2023–09
  3. By: Ernst Fehr (Department of Economics, Zurich University. Blümlisalpstrasse 10, 8006 Zurich, Switzerland); Thomas Epper (IESEG School of Management, Univ. Lille, CNRS, UMR 9221- LEM - Lille Economie Management F-59000 Lille, France); Julien Senn (Department of Economics, Zurich University. Blûmlisalpstrasse 10, 8006 Zurich, Switzerland)
    Abstract: Increasing inequality and associated egalitarian sentiments have put redistribution on the political agenda. In this paper, we take advantage of Swiss direct democracy, where people voted several times on strongly redistributive policies in national plebiscites, to study the link between social preferences and a behaviorally validated measure of support for redistribution in a broad sample of the Swiss population. Using a novel nonparametric Bayesian clustering algorithm, we uncover the existence of three fundamentally distinct preference types in the population: predominantly selfish, inequality averse and altruistic individuals. We show that inequality averse and altruistic individuals display a much stronger support for redistribution, particularly if they are more affluent. In addition, we show that previously identified key motives underlying opposition to redistribution – such as the belief that effort is an important driver of individual success – play no role for selfish individuals but are highly relevant for other-regarding individuals. Finally, while inequality averse individuals display strong support for policies that primarily aim to reduce the incomes of the rich, altruistic individuals are considerably less supportive of these policies. Thus, knowledge about the qualitative properties of social preferences and their distribution in the population also provides insights into which preference type supports specific redistributive policies, which has implications for how policy makers may design redistributive packages to maximize political support for them.
    Keywords: Social Preferences, Altruism, Inequality Aversion, Preference Heterogeneity, Demand for Redistribution
    JEL: D31 D72 H23 H24
    Date: 2023–10
  4. By: ONO Yoshikuni
    Abstract: Do men and women have distinct preferences for leadership styles in the political arena? Existing research in organizational behavior indicates that leadership styles in business settings differ between men and women. Specifically, male leaders tend to adopt a task-oriented approach focused on goal achievement, while female leaders lean toward a relationship-oriented style that emphasizes participatory decision-making. This study examines survey data from Japanese voters and elected officials to investigate whether these gender differences are mirrored in political preferences. The findings reveal that male voters value task-oriented leadership more than female voters, who show a greater preference for relationship-oriented leadership. Interestingly, similar patterns were observed among elected officials. However, when accounting for party affiliation, these gender differences disappeared, suggesting that gender-specific leadership preferences might be closely linked to partisan styles. This could be because political parties aim to attract more female voters by adopting leadership styles that align with the preferences of their female voters.
    Date: 2023–10
  5. By: Sascha O. Becker, Sascha O (Department of Economics, Monash University and University of Warwick, CAGE, CESifo, CEH@ANU, CReAM, CEPR, Ifo, IZA, ROA, RF Berlin, and SoDa Labs.); Voth, Hans-Joachim (Department of Economics, University of Zurich, UBS Center for Economics in Society, CAGE and CEPR.)
    Abstract: Can weakened religiosity lead to the rise of totalitarianism? The Nazi Party set itself up as a political religion, emphasizing redemption, sacrifice, rituals, and communal spirit. This had a major impact on its success: Where the Christian Church only had shallow roots, the Nazis received higher electoral support and saw more party entry. shallow Christianity reflects the geography of medieval Christianization and the strength of pagan practices, which we use as sources of exogenous variation. We also find predictive power at the individual level : Within each municipality, the likelihood of joining the Nazi Party was higher for those with less Christian first names.
    Keywords: Political Religion ; Behavioral Political Economy ; Voting; Nazi Party ; Protestantism ; Shallow Christianity ; Political Religion ; Paganism. JEL Codes: N13 ; N14 ; N44 ; P16 ; ;Z18
    Date: 2023
  6. By: Valentin Lang (Universität Mannheim, Germany); Stephan A. Schneider (KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich, Switzerland)
    Abstract: During recent immigration waves, nationalist parties increased their vote shares in many countries, but the political backlash against immigration in some regions was much stronger than in others. We examine whether past experience with migrant inflows shapes voters' reactions to current immigration waves. Our study is based on a natural experiment from Germany, where a short-term and demonstrably arbitrary drawing of occupation zones entailed a discontinuous distribution of forced migrants after World War II. Combining historical migration and election records in a 1949-2021 panel at the municipality level, we exploit these differences in a spatial fuzzy regression discontinuity design. Our results show a substantially weaker nationalist backlash against current immigration in regions that received more forced migrants in the past. Current immigration levels activate and mute this effect of exposure to immigration in the past over a period of at least 70 years.
    Keywords: Migration, Nationalism, Persistence, Voting Behavior
    JEL: D72 O15
    Date: 2022–08
  7. By: Emilio Esguerra (LMU Munich); Felix Hagemeister (Süddeutsche Zeitung Digitale Medien); Julian Heid (LMU Munich); Tim Leffler (LMU Munich)
    Abstract: We provide novel evidence on how right-wing (populist) rhetoric spreads. Using several thousand speeches from the German parliament, we show that exposure to politicians from the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) leads mainstream politicians to adopt a more distinctively right-wing populist language. We measure similarity to right-wing populist rhetoric via cosine similarity to both parliamentary speeches by the AfD and extremist speeches at far-right rallies, as well as using a populist dictionary method. To induce individual-level variation in exposure to AfD politicians, we exploit a quasi-exogenous allocation rule for committee members in the German parliament. Comparing a politician with the highest to one with the lowest relative AfD exposure increases the cosine similarity to right-wing populist speech by 0.1 of a standard deviation. Our results seem specific to right-wing populism and suggest strategic motives related to local electoral competition behind rhetorical changes among individual politicians.
    Keywords: right-wing populism; AfD; Germany; NLP;
    Date: 2023–10–23
  8. By: Andrew E. Clark; Maria Cotofan
    Abstract: It is well-known that the wealthier are more likely to have Right-leaning political preferences. We here in addition consider the role of the individual's starting position, and in particular their upward social mobility relative to their parents. In 18 waves of UK panel data, both own and parental social status are independently positively associated with Right-leaning voting and political preferences: given their own social status, the upwardly-mobile are therefore more Left-wing. We investigate a number of potential mediators: these results do not reflect the relationship between well-being and own and parents' social status but are rather linked to the individual's beliefs about how fair society is.
    Keywords: social mobility, voting, redistribution, satisfaction, fairness, Technological change, Wellbeing
    Date: 2023–07–21
  9. By: Francesc Amat; Pablo Beramendi; Miriam Hortas-Rico; Vicente Rios
    Abstract: This study investigates how economic inequality shapes political participation and to what extent this relationship is moderated by political competition. In the case of Spain, the link between income inequality and turnout is negative, as expected, but rather weak, suggesting that local turnout rates do not depend exclusively on income inequality levels. We develop a theoretical model linking inequality, political competition and turnout. To test the validity of the theoretical model we derive a novel data set of inequality metrics for a sample of municipalities over the five local elections that took place between 2003 and 2019 and specify a spatial dynamic panel data model that allows us to account for serial dependence, unobserved spatial heterogeneity and spatial dependence.
    Date: 2023–10
  10. By: Gary W. Cox; Jon H. Fiva; Max-Emil M. King
    Abstract: A vast and growing quantitative literature considers how social networks shape political mobilization but the degree to which turnout decisions are strategic remains ambiguous. Unlike previous studies, we establish personal links between voters and candidates and exploit discontinuous incentives to mobilize across district boundaries to estimate causal effects. Considering three types of network—families, co-workers, and immigrant communities—we show that a group member’s candidacy acts as a mobilizational impulse that propagates through the group’s network. In family networks, some of this impulse is non-strategic, surviving past district boundaries. However, the bulk of family mobilization is bound by the candidate’s district boundary, as is the entirety of the mobilizational effects in the other networks.
    Keywords: political participation, social networks, electoral geography
    JEL: D72 D85 C33
    Date: 2023
  11. By: Ilyana Kuziemko; Nicolas Longuet Marx; Suresh Naidu
    Abstract: We argue that the Democratic Party’s evolution on economic policy helps explain partisan realignment by education. We show that less-educated Americans differentially demand “predistribution” policies (e.g., a federal jobs guarantee, higher minimum wages, protectionism, and stronger unions), while more-educated Americans differentially favor redistribution (taxes and transfers). This educational gradient in policy preferences has been largely unchanged since the 1940s. We then show the Democrats’ supply of predistribution has declined since the 1970s. We tie this decline to the rise of a self-described “New Democrat” party faction who court more educated voters and are explicitly skeptical of predistribution. Consistent with this faction’s growing influence, we document the significant growth of donations from highly educated donors, especially from out-of-district donors, who play an increasingly important role in Democratic (especially “New Democrat”) primary campaigns relative to Republican primaries. In response to these within-party changes in power, less-educated Americans began to leave the Democratic Party in the 1970s, after decades of serving as the party’s base. Roughly half of the total shift can be explained by their changing views of the parties’ economic policies. We also show that in the crucial transition period of the 1970s and 1980s, New Democrat-aligned candidates draw disproportionately from more-educated voters in both survey questions and actual Congressional elections.
    JEL: H20 J0 P0
    Date: 2023–10
  12. By: Gustavo J. Bobonis; Anke Kessler; Xin Zhao
    Abstract: To what extent can audits serve to limit patronage and corrupt networks effectively and sustainably in clientelist societies with a prevailing norm of corruption? We develop a political agency model in which office holders are motivated to reduce rent seeking behavior through re-election incentives operating via elections and audits (formal institutions), but also through reputational concerns that are influenced by the prevailing norm on corruption in their peer group (informal institutions). We show that, while the formal institutions of audits and elections have the desired direct effect of reducing corruption, they also affect informal rules of conduct, which can have unintended effects. We then apply this theoretical framework to evidence from Puerto Rico’s anti-corruption municipal audits program over the period 1987-2014, and argue that the interaction of elections, audits, and norms can help explain a peculiar pattern in the data. Using a quasi-experimental design based on the exogenous timing of audits relative to elections, we find that mayors respond positively to audits in their own community, but negatively to audits - and the corresponding reduction in corruption - in neighboring municipalities. Our estimates suggest a large negative spillover effect: communities where two-thirds of adjacent jurisdictions undergo a (timely) audit experience a 30 percent increase in reported corruption levels.
    Keywords: corruption; rent-seeking; public sector accounting and audits; social norms; institutional arrangements
    JEL: D72 H83 K42 O17
    Date: 2023–10–31
  13. By: Mateusz Krukowski
    Abstract: May's classical theorem states that in a single-winner choose-one voting system with just two candidates, majority rule is the only social choice function satisfying anonimity, neutrality and positive responsiveness axiom. Anonimity and neutrality are usually regarded as very natural constraints on the social choice function. Positive responsiveness, on the other hand, is sometimes deemed too strong of an axiom, which stimulates further search for less stringent conditions. One viable substitute is Gerhard J. Woeginger's "reducibility to subsocieties". We demonstrate that the condition generalizes to more than two candidates and, consequently, characterizes majority rule for elections with multiple candidates.
    Date: 2023–08
  14. By: Yan, Alan Nigel (UC Berkeley)
    Abstract: Union membership has been long believed to liberalize a range of political attitudes from partisanship to racial prejudice. This paper considers the theoretical preconditions necessary for such influence and argues that it is unlikely. Union members may not receive, may ignore, and may deprioritize their union's message compared to other considerations. Previous research faced empirical challenges with causal inference, limited sample sizes, and limited outcomes. I collect 12 panel surveys from 1956 to 2020 with 20, 392 respondents and use advances in difference-in-differences designs to evaluate whether union membership causes political, economic, and racial attitudes to liberalize across 59 outcomes. I find that gaining union membership has no meaningful immediate or medium-term persuasive effects. I also show that a prominent previous liberalizing result was fragile. These results suggest a reconsideration of the role of labor unions in political behavior.
    Date: 2023–10–27

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