nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2024‒01‒15
twelve papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu, University of Calgary

  1. Does Political Partisanship Affect Housing Supply? Evidence from US Cities By Fernando V. Ferreira; Joseph Gyourko
  2. Can Effective Policy Implementation Alter Political Selection? Evidence from Female Legislators in India By Anukriti, S; Calvi, Rossella; Chakravarty, Abhishek
  3. Political ideology and innovation By Gaia Dossi; Marta Morando
  4. Populism and Impatience By Aronsson, Thomas; Hetschko, Clemens; Schöb, Ronnie
  5. Vox Populi, Vox AI? Using Language Models to Estimate German Public Opinion By von der Heyde, Leah; Haensch, Anna-Carolina; Wenz, Alexander
  6. Minority Protection in Voting Mechanisms – Experimental Evidence By Dirk Engelmann; Hans Peter Grüner; Timo Hoffmann; Alex Possajenikov
  7. The Case for Lobbying Transparency By Zerbini, Antoine
  8. Educate Some to Represent Many? Education and Female Political Representation in Europe By Luna Bellani; Marisa Hidalgo-Hidalgo
  9. Whose Preferences Matter for Redistribution: Cross-country Evidence By Michel Marechal; Alain Cohn; Jeffrey Yusof; Raymond Fisman
  10. Vertical transfers, political alignment, and efficiency in local government By Isabel Narbón-Perpiñá; Maria Teresa Balaguer-Coll; Diego Prior; Emili Tortosa-Ausina
  11. Temporal Fairness in Multiwinner Voting By Edith Elkind; Svetlana Obratzsova; Nicholas Teh
  12. Civil Rights Protests and Election Outcomes: Exploring the Effects of the Poor People's Campaign By D. Mark Anderson; Kerwin Charles; Krzysztof Karbownik; Daniel I. Rees; Camila Steffens

  1. By: Fernando V. Ferreira; Joseph Gyourko
    Abstract: We study the relationship between housing supply and political partisanship in US cities using a new database of mayoral elections combined with local housing permits since 1980. Endogeneity of which party holds the mayoral office is addressed via a regression discontinuity design that relies on closely contested races between Republicans and Democrats. We find that partisanship has no effect on the supply of single and multifamily housing despite recent increases in extreme partisanship, corroborating that US cities follow the median voter. This indicates that solutions to housing affordability will not be dependent upon the political party in power at the local level.
    JEL: H7 P43 R0
    Date: 2023–12
  2. By: Anukriti, S (World Bank); Calvi, Rossella (Rice University); Chakravarty, Abhishek (University of Essex)
    Abstract: Can effective policy implementation change political selection by inducing voters to prioritize leader competence over other traits, such as gender? We answer this question by examining the impact of a successful school-expansion program on the likelihood of women being elected to state legislatures in India. We show that the program increased voter prioritization of leader competence over gender, boosting the share of women among candidates and state parliamentarians and the overall capability of elected officials. These findings are consistent with the predictions of a model of candidate self-selection where voters trade-off candidate competence with their bias against female leaders.
    Keywords: DPEP, political selection, India, leader competence, female leaders, gender
    JEL: J16 I24 O12
    Date: 2023–11
  3. By: Gaia Dossi; Marta Morando
    Abstract: We study the role of political ideology for a critical group of economic agents: inventors. We document that, in "politically polarizing" fields, inventors patent innovations aligned with their political beliefs. We construct a novel dataset matching data from the US Patent Office (USPTO) with individual Voter Register data for two large US states, and with the universe of US campaign contributions data. We proxy political ideology with individual party affiliation and focus on fields where the ideological distance between Republicans and Democrats is especially large in the general population. We find that, compared to Republicans, Democrats are: i) more likely to file green patents; ii) more likely to file female-health patents, and this persists in the sub-set of male inventors; and iii) less likely to file weapon-related patents. The magnitudes are large and range from one-fourth to one-third of total patent production in these technologies. This pattern is explained by inventors sorting into firms, rather than by within-firm dynamics. Socio-economic status, geography, or differential reactions to monetary incentives cannot explain our findings. Importantly, ideological sorting persists in research organizations, suggesting that inventors may derive intrinsic utility from producing innovation aligned with their beliefs. We rationalize our findings using a stylized model of the labor market where inventors derive amenity value from producing innovation close to their political ideology.
    Keywords: political ideology, innovation, inventors
    Date: 2023–12–19
  4. By: Aronsson, Thomas (Department of Economics, Umeå University); Hetschko, Clemens (University of Leeds and CESifo); Schöb, Ronnie (Freie Universität Berlin and CESifo)
    Abstract: This study shows that supporters of right-wing populist parties in Germany and the United Kingdom tend to be less patient than supporters of other parties and thus more prone to favor immediate gratification over long-term outcomes. Our empirical analysis highlights that a direct effect of impatience on the support for right-wing populism remains even after controlling for life outcomes, such as income and education. We present a theoretical model to rationalize this finding, where highly impatient individuals are subject to binding borrowing constraints and therefore unable to reallocate the benefits of forward-looking policies to the present. For this reason, they tend to support myopic policies promoted by populist parties that focus on immediate outcomes. Extending our empirical analysis shows that the direct effect of impatience on the likelihood of preferring a right-wing populist party may indeed be driven by voters who are borrowing-constrained.
    Keywords: Time-preference; impatience; right-wing populism; borrowing constraint
    JEL: D15 D72 D91 F15 F68 H53
    Date: 2023–12–17
  5. By: von der Heyde, Leah (LMU Munich); Haensch, Anna-Carolina; Wenz, Alexander (University of Mannheim)
    Abstract: The recent development of large language models (LLMs) has spurred discussions about whether LLM-generated “synthetic samples” could complement or replace traditional surveys, considering their training data potentially reflects attitudes and behaviors prevalent in the population. A number of mostly US-based studies have prompted LLMs to mimic survey respondents, finding that the responses closely match the survey data. However, several contextual factors related to the relationship between the respective target population and LLM training data might affect the generalizability of such findings. In this study, we investigate the extent to which LLMs can estimate public opinion in Germany, using the example of vote choice as outcome of interest. To generate a synthetic sample of eligible voters in Germany, we create personas matching the individual characteristics of the 2017 German Longitudinal Election Study respondents. Prompting GPT-3 with each persona, we ask the LLM to predict each respondents’ vote choice in the 2017 German federal elections and compare these predictions to the survey-based estimates on the aggregate and subgroup levels. We find that GPT-3 does not predict citizens’ vote choice accurately, exhibiting a bias towards the Green and Left parties, and making better predictions for more “typical” voter subgroups. While the language model is able to capture broad-brush tendencies tied to partisanship, it tends to miss out on the multifaceted factors that sway individual voter choices. Furthermore, our results suggest that GPT-3 might not be reliable for estimating nuanced, subgroup-specific political attitudes. By examining the prediction of voting behavior using LLMs in a new context, our study contributes to the growing body of research about the conditions under which LLMs can be leveraged for studying public opinion. The findings point to disparities in opinion representation in LLMs and underscore the limitation of applying them for public opinion estimation without accounting for the biases in their training data.
    Date: 2023–12–15
  6. By: Dirk Engelmann (HU zu Berlin); Hans Peter Grüner (University of Mannheim); Timo Hoffmann; Alex Possajenikov (University of Nottingham)
    Abstract: Under simple majority voting an absolute majority of voters may choose policies that are harmful to minorities. It is the purpose of sub- and super-majority rules to protect legitimate minority interests. We study how voting rules are chosen under the veil of ignorance and whether there are systematic biases in these choices. In our experiment, individuals choose voting rules for given distributions of gains and losses that can arise from a policy, but before learning their own valuation of the policy. We find that subjects on average adjust the voting rule in line with the skewness of the distribution. As a result, a higher share of the achievable surplus can be extracted with the suggested rules than with exogenously given simple majority voting. While the rule choices are not significantly biased towards under- or overprotection of the minority, towards majority voting or towards status-quo preserving rules, they only imperfectly reflect the distributions of benefits and costs. In expectation this leads to only 63% of the surplus being extracted. The participants are heterogeneous with respect to how well their rule choices adapt to the distribution of valuations, with a large share of the surplus loss caused by a small group of participants.
    Keywords: minority protection; voting; experiments;
    JEL: D72 C91
    Date: 2023–12–17
  7. By: Zerbini, Antoine
    Abstract: In response to voters’ demands to reduce interest groups’ influence over policy-making, many countries are passing or discussing transparency regulations on the activities of lobbyists. What is the impact of these laws? To study this question, I combine a lobbying model with a canonical model of political agency. I show that the need for lobbying transparency is rooted in the conflicting policy and electoral incentives of politicians rather than in the risk of undue influence by interest groups per se. Then, by making clearer the process through which a policy was implemented, lobbying transparency both helps voters control the influence of interest groups and better punish politicians who do not represent their best interests. I also show that politicians often have little incentives to implement lobbying transparency, potentially explaining why voters’ demand for it remains unanswered.
    Date: 2023–12–11
  8. By: Luna Bellani (University of Ulm, IZA and AXA Research Lab on Gender Equality of Dondena Research Center); Marisa Hidalgo-Hidalgo (Department of Economics, Universidad Pablo de Olavide)
    Abstract: Gender disparity is present in many aspects of life, especially in politics. This paper provides new evidence on the impact of women’s education on political representation focusing on several European countries. We combine multi-country data from the Gender Statistics Database of the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) and from the European Social Survey (ESS). We find increased female education significantly raises the percentage of women being elected to regional parliaments. We then explore possible channels at the individual level and find education increases women’s interest in politics and induces more egalitarian views about gender roles in society among women, although it fails to do so among men.
    Keywords: education, female political participation, compulsory schooling reforms, ESS.
    JEL: H52 I21 I23 J24 J31
    Date: 2023
  9. By: Michel Marechal; Alain Cohn; Jeffrey Yusof; Raymond Fisman
    Abstract: Using cross-sectional data from 93 countries, we investigate the relationship between the desired level of redistribution among citizens from different socioeconomic backgrounds and the actual extent of government redistribution. Our focus on redistribution arises from the inherent class conflicts it engenders in policy choices, allowing us to examine whose preferences are reflected in policy formulation. Contrary to prevailing assumptions regarding political influence, we find that the preferences of the lower socioeconomic group, rather than those of the median or upper strata, are most predictive of realized redistribution. This finding contradicts the expectations of both leading experts and regular citizens.
    JEL: D72 D78 H23
    Date: 2023–12
  10. By: Isabel Narbón-Perpiñá (Department of Business, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain); Maria Teresa Balaguer-Coll (Department of Finance and Accounting, Universitat Jaume I, Castellón, Spain); Diego Prior (Department of Business, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain); Emili Tortosa-Ausina (IVIE, Valencia and IIDL and Department of Economics, Universitat Jaume I, Castellón, Spain)
    Abstract: When decentralized governments share the public budget, distributive policies are needed to allocate public goods and services among them. To date, however, both the theoretical and empirical evidence has largely examined the effect of political orientation on the quantity of transfers received, without considering how efficiently they are managed. This article aims to fill this gap by linking the literature on political alignment and transfers with work on public sector efficiency. Specifically, we examine how bureaucratic input choices might be related to political orientation and political sign, and how political coordination between local and higher levels of government could lead to inefficiencies due to clientelism, corrupt practices, or lack of transparency. Our results suggest that political alignment between local governments and higher-level governments may lead to a decrease in public sector efficiency, which is detrimental to distributive policies.
    Keywords: efficiency, local government, political alignment, provincial council, transfers
    JEL: C14 H11 H70 R15
    Date: 2023
  11. By: Edith Elkind; Svetlana Obratzsova; Nicholas Teh
    Abstract: Multiwinner voting captures a wide variety of settings, from parliamentary elections in democratic systems to product placement in online shopping platforms. There is a large body of work dealing with axiomatic characterizations, computational complexity, and algorithmic analysis of multiwinner voting rules. Although many challenges remain, significant progress has been made in showing existence of fair and representative outcomes as well as efficient algorithmic solutions for many commonly studied settings. However, much of this work focuses on single-shot elections, even though in numerous real-world settings elections are held periodically and repeatedly. Hence, it is imperative to extend the study of multiwinner voting to temporal settings. Recently, there have been several efforts to address this challenge. However, these works are difficult to compare, as they model multi-period voting in very different ways. We propose a unified framework for studying temporal fairness in this domain, drawing connections with various existing bodies of work, and consolidating them within a general framework. We also identify gaps in existing literature, outline multiple opportunities for future work, and put forward a vision for the future of multiwinner voting in temporal settings.
    Date: 2023–12
  12. By: D. Mark Anderson; Kerwin Charles; Krzysztof Karbownik; Daniel I. Rees; Camila Steffens
    Abstract: The Poor People’s Campaign (PPC) of 1968 was focused on highlighting, and ultimately reducing, poverty in the United States. As part of the campaign, protestors from across the country were transported to Washington, D.C. in 6 separate bus caravans, each of which made stops en route to rest, recruit, and hold non-violent protests. Using data from 1960-1970, we estimate the effects of these protests on congressional election outcomes. In the South, we find that PPC protests led to reductions in Democratic vote share and turnout, while in the West they may have benefited Democratic candidates at the expense of their Republican rivals.
    JEL: D72 I30 J15 N32
    Date: 2023–12

This nep-pol issue is ©2024 by Eugene Beaulieu. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
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