nep-pol New Economics Papers
on Positive Political Economics
Issue of 2024‒02‒12
eleven papers chosen by
Eugene Beaulieu, University of Calgary

  1. Digging up Trenches: Populism, Selective Mobility, and the Political Polarization of Italian Municipalities By Bellodi, Luca; Docquier, Frédéric; Iandolo, Stefano; Morelli, Massimo; Turati, Riccardo
  2. How Do Recruiters Assess Applicants Who Express a Political Engagement? By Moens, Eline; De Pessemier, Dyllis; Baert, Stijn
  3. Votes for Sale By Rohit Ticku
  4. From Border Opening to Political Closing: Immigration and Voting for the Far Right in Switzerland By Alrababah, Ala; Beerli, Andreas; Hangartner, Dominik; Ward, Dalston
  5. The Guardian State: Strengthening the Public Service against Democratic Backsliding By Yesilkagit, Kutsal; Bauer, Michael; Peters, B. Guy; Pierre, Jon
  6. False Consensus Beliefs and Populist Attitudes By Nils D. Steiner; Claudia Landwehr; Philipp Harms
  7. When women hold local office: Women’s representation and political engagement amid conflict and climate shocks across Africa By Kosec, Katrina; Kyle, Jordan; Takeshima, Hiroyuki
  8. On the price of diversity for multiwinner elections under (weakly) separable scoring rules By Mostapha Diss; Clinton Gabon Gassi; Eric Kamwa
  9. On Social Cohesion and Social Disintegration By Philipp Harms; Jana Niedringhaus
  10. The Behavioral, Economic, and Political Impact of the Internet and Social Media: Empirical Challenges and Approaches By Sabatini, Fabio
  11. Fair Play? The Politics of Evaluating Foreign Subsidies in the European Union By Robert Basedow; Sophie Meunier; Christilla Roederer-Rynning

  1. By: Bellodi, Luca (Bocconi University); Docquier, Frédéric (LISER); Iandolo, Stefano (University of Salerno); Morelli, Massimo (Bocconi University); Turati, Riccardo (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)
    Abstract: We study the effect of local exposure to populism on net population movements by citizenship status, gender, age and education level in the context of Italian municipalities. We present two research designs to estimate the causal effect of populist attitudes and politics. Initially, we use a combination of collective memory and trigger variables as an instrument for the variation in populist vote shares across national elections. Subsequently, we apply a regression discontinuity design to estimate the effect of electing a populist mayor on population movements. We establish three converging findings. First, the exposure to both populist attitudes and policies, as manifested by the vote share of populist parties in national election or the closeelection of a new populist mayor, reduces the attractiveness of municipalities, leading to larger population outflows. Second, the effect is particularly pronounced among young, female, and highly educated natives, who tend to relocate across Italian municipalities rather than internationally. Third, we do not find any effect on the foreign population. Our results highlight a foot-voting mechanism that may contribute to a political polarization in Italian municipalities.
    Keywords: migration, human capital, populism, Italian politics
    JEL: D72 F22 F52 J61
    Date: 2024–01
  2. By: Moens, Eline (Ghent University); De Pessemier, Dyllis (Ghent University); Baert, Stijn (Ghent University)
    Abstract: Although unequal treatment of workers based on political affiliation is prohibited in many countries, it is conspicuously understudied in the discrimination literature. In this study, we set up a vignette experiment with genuine recruiters to provide more insight into the effect of political engagement in job applicants on the assessment of their resumes by these professionals. We find that, overall, recruiters view an applicant as less creative, open-minded, empathetic and emotionally sensitive when a political engagement is expressed. These stigma are greater for candidates with a right-wing nationalist commitment. Relatedly, these candidates are assessed worse in terms of overall hireability and perceived inclination or taste among employers, colleagues and customers to collaborate with them. They are, however, seen as somewhat more assertive. In contrast to research conducted in one- or two-party systems, we do not find interactions with the political preference of the recruiter herself/himself. Overall, the effect of mentioning a political engagement in a resume is more negative when the required education level of the vacancy is high.
    Keywords: hiring discrimination, political preference, vignette experiment
    JEL: D72 J21 J71 P16 C91
    Date: 2024–01
  3. By: Rohit Ticku
    Abstract: This paper examines the financial gains derived from holding public office for independentlegislators in India. Given that party-affiliated legislators are legally prohibited from engagingin cross-voting or defection, I hypothesize that independent legislators can secure rents whentheir support becomes pivotal for government formation. Utilizing candidate asset disclosuresfrom Indian state elections spanning 2003 to 2012, I demonstrate that independent legislatorsamass wealth at a faster pace than their party-affiliated counterparts in states where thelargest party or coalition falls short of a majority. The point estimates suggest that, for eachadditional seat that the largest party or coalition falls short of a majority, an independentlegislator experiences an approximate 2% annual increase in their assets relative to a partyaffiliated legislator. The disproportionate gains are particularly prominent in movable assets, implying a potential quid-pro-quo involving cash payments.
    Keywords: Independent politicians, Government formation, Political rents, Asset growth
    JEL: D74 N35 N45
    Date: 2023–09
  4. By: Alrababah, Ala; Beerli, Andreas; Hangartner, Dominik; Ward, Dalston
    Abstract: The main theories explaining electoral backlash against immigration give centrality to citizens' cultural, economic, and security concerns. We test these predictions in Switzerland, which opened its labor market to neighboring countries in the 2000s. Using a difference-in-differences design, we document that immigration to Swiss border municipalities increased substantially after the borders opened, followed by a more than six percentage point (29%) increase in support for anti-immigrant parties. However, we find no adverse effects on citizens' employment and wages nor on their subjective perceptions of economic, cultural, or security threats. Instead, we describe how far-right parties introduced novel threats to increase hostility toward immigrants. Our evidence demonstrates how elite rhetoric targeted border municipalities and had the greatest effects on voters vulnerable to political persuasion. Together, these findings emphasize the role that elites may play in driving anti-immigrant votes.
    Date: 2024–01–11
  5. By: Yesilkagit, Kutsal; Bauer, Michael; Peters, B. Guy; Pierre, Jon
    Abstract: This article addresses the vulnerability of liberal democracy to illiberal political movements and the gradual erosion of democratic institutions. While free and fair elections are central to democracy, backsliding politicians can exploit them to legitimate their undemocratic actions. To safeguard liberal democracy, we propose the concept of the Guardian State, which embraces liberal principles while acting as a defensive barrier against illiberal tendencies. This requires strong administrative institutions, i.e., an empowered civil service that upholds liberal democratic norms and resists pressures from populist politicians. Institutionalizing guardianship as the key norm within the civil service fortifies democratic institutions against backsliding. It acknowledges the challenges posed by the principle of neutrality, which cannot ensure that only liberal citizens come to power. Structural measures at the individual and organizational levels are essential to fortify the foundations of the Guardian State and protect liberal democracy against evolving threats. We conclude that proactive efforts are necessary to defend and strengthen the public service to ensure the long-term viability of democratic governance. The Guardian State, then, rooted in liberal democratic values, provides a framework for protecting against illiberal and authoritarian forces, and places the bureaucracy in a key role in preserving the core principles of democracy.
    Date: 2024–01–10
  6. By: Nils D. Steiner (Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz); Claudia Landwehr (Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz); Philipp Harms (Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz)
    Abstract: A well-established finding from social psychology is that people tend to hold “false consensus beliefs”, that is, they regularly overestimate how many others agree with their own opinions. The consequences of such beliefs for how citizens assess democratic legitimacy have been left largely unexplored, however. We reason that false consensus beliefs may give citizens the erroneous impression that their political preferences are shared by most fellow citizens while political elites fail to follow this apparent will of the majority. False consensus beliefs might therefore play a central role in the development of populist attitudes to politics. Using original panel survey data from Germany, we document a robust relationship between false consensus beliefs and populist attitudes. As an indication of broader negative consequences for perceived legitimacy, we also find that individuals who hold false consensus beliefs score lower on external efficacy and political trust. Our findings suggest a novel cause of populist attitudes, rooted in humans' tendency to project own views onto others—a tendency that may be exacerbated by today's high-choice media environments.
    Keywords: False consensus beliefs, beliefs about public opinion, populist attitudes, perceived responsiveness, belief polarization, political support
    Date: 2024–01–22
  7. By: Kosec, Katrina; Kyle, Jordan; Takeshima, Hiroyuki
    Abstract: One argument in favor of quotas for women’s representation in political office is that female politicians can break down gender barriers more broadly, inspiring individual women to participate politically. In many African countries, where gender gaps in political participation are large, identifying effective strategies to reduce gender imbalances is critical. Recurring climate and conflict shocks are making this task more urgent, to ensure that women’s voices are included when designing responses to those shocks and as it is possible that climate and conflict shocks could widen participation gaps. Using data from 13 African countries on women’s representation in subnational political offices as well as survey data on individual political participation, we find, first, that women’s representation in local office is associated with higher political participation by individual women (but not by men) in this context. Second, using geo-referenced data on shocks, we show that violent conflict shocks in particular lower political participation for everyone, although the effects are stronger for men compared to women in the 12-month frame that we consider here. Third, we find that, when women leaders hold local political office, the negative effects of conflict shocks on political participation are mitigated for women. These analyses offer important new insights into the relationship between women’s political representation and women’s individual political activity within the context of shocks.
    Keywords: gender; women; women's participation; political systems; conflicts; shock; climate; fragility; AFRICA; AFRICA SOUTH OF SAHARA; CENTRAL AFRICA; EAST AFRICA; NORTH AFRICA; SOUTHERN AFRICA; WEST AFRICA
    Date: 2023
  8. By: Mostapha Diss (Université de Franche-Comté, CRESE, UR3190, F-25000 Besançon, France); Clinton Gabon Gassi (Université de Franche-Comté, CRESE, UR3190, F-25000 Besançon, France); Eric Kamwa (Université des Antilles, LC2S, UMR CNRS 8053, Martinique, France)
    Abstract: We consider a model of multi-winner elections, where each voter expresses a linear preference over a finite set of alternatives. Based on voters’ preferences, the primary goal is to select a subset of admissible alternatives, forming what is referred to as a committee. We explore (weakly) separable committee scoring rules, the voting mechanisms that assess each alternative individually using a scoring vector and select the top k alternatives, where k represents the committee’s size. Furthermore, we operate under the assumption that alternatives are categorized based on specific attributes. Within each attribute category, there exists a targeted minimum number of alternatives that the selected committee should encompass, emphasizing the necessity for diversity. In this context, we assess the cost associated with imposing such a diversity constraint on the voting process. This assessment is conducted through two methodologies, referred to as the “price of diversity” and the “individual price of diversity”. We set the upper bounds for both prices across all (weakly) separable committee scoring rules. Additionally, we show how the maximum price of diver- sity can be used to discriminate between different voting rules in this context. Ultimately, we illustrate that concentrating on the candidates’ performance yields a more accurate estimation of the price of diversity compared to a focus on the enforced diversity constraint.
    Keywords: Group decisions and negotiations, voting, multiwinner elections, scoring rules, price of diversity
    JEL: D71 D72
    Date: 2024–01
  9. By: Philipp Harms (Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz); Jana Niedringhaus (Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz)
    Abstract: In this paper, we argue that the recent erosion of the societal consensus in many democratic countries reflects a mix of economic and non-economic forces, which potentially reinforce each other. We present a simple model of a society that consists of different income groups, and in which the government uses redistributive taxation to maximize its political support. Under social cohesion, all citizens identify with the society at large, setting aside their own non-economic priorities and ambitions in the interest of the common good. We analyze the consequences of an exogenous identification shock, which induces high-income earners to no longer identify with the society at large. This shock forces the government to reconsider its tax policy and other citizens to reconsider their identification choices. We establish conditions that must be satisfied to prevent such a society from dropping into a state of social disintegration – i.e. a situation in which neither high-income earners nor low-income earners identify with the society – and highlight the parameters that determine the likelihood of such an outcome. Tentative empirical evidence supports the model's main hypotheses.
    Keywords: Social Identity, Redistribution, Social Conflict
    JEL: D72 D74 D91 H23 Z13
    Date: 2024–01–09
  10. By: Sabatini, Fabio (Sapienza University of Rome)
    Abstract: This paper presents a review of empirical methods used to assess the behavioral, economic, and political outcomes of Internet and social media usage. Instead of merely surveying the various impacts of the Internet, we examine the methods adopted to identify these impacts. We describe two main approaches for establishing causal effects, each with strengths and limitations. The first approach involves searching for exogenous sources of variation in the access to fast Internet or specific content. The second approach takes the form of field or laboratory experiments. In this paper, we focus on the first approach, delving into the methodological threats, empirical design, and main findings of the most prominent studies that exploit natural or quasi-experiments for identifying the causal impact of high-speed Internet or specific social media. This undertaking allows us to highlight the key empirical challenges in the field of Internet and social media economics while summarizing the causal relationships that the literature has uncovered so far.
    Keywords: internet, social media, artificial intelligence, broadband infrastructure, politics, social capital
    JEL: D71 D72 D74 D83 L82 L86 L88 L96 L98 Z13
    Date: 2023–12
  11. By: Robert Basedow; Sophie Meunier; Christilla Roederer-Rynning
    Abstract: The European Union (EU), for decades a pillar of openness and multilateralism, has recently shifted towards a more assertive commercial policy relying on the development of new geoeconomic instruments designed to level the playing field and deal with the increasing blurriness between economy and national security. Alongside the new EU FDI screening framework for national security in place since 2020, the EU recently proposed and adopted another FDI screening mechanism to tackle market distortions arising from foreign subsidies in the context of European mergers and acquisitions. Why is the EU introducing this new policy instrument right now? What political economy forces shape the institutional design? And why does this instrument enjoy broad support in the Commission, Council of Ministers and European Parliament despite its likely redistributive impacts on Member State economies? Our paper uses process tracing, expert interviews, media research and secondary literature to trace the history of this policy project from its inception to its entry into force in mid 2023. In particular, we question why the decision was made to embed this policy under the competition arm of the European Commission, unlike FDI screening for national security which is managed by the trade policy arm. The paper finds that framing foreign subsidies as a competition issue sought to insulate the policy from accusations of disguised protectionism and ensured political support across the EU. Whereas more activist Member States, services of the European Commission and Members of the European Parliament see the instrument as a steppingstone toward a European industrial policy and more assertive foreign policy, vis-à-vis notably China, others perceive it as a long overdue measure to close regulatory gaps and to strengthen EU competition and state aid policy as well as relevant WTO rules. The paper contributes to the growing literature on EU foreign economic policy at the nexus between International Political Economy and Security Studies by shedding light on one of the most prominent new policy initiatives in these domains.
    Keywords: EU, China, FDI, M&A, Subsidies, State Aid, Competition Policy, anti-trust
    Date: 2023–06

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.
General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.