Quantifying Political Populism and Examining the Link with Economic Insecurity: evidence from Greece

At this juncture of human history populism is ubiquitous and Greek politics constitute no exception. This paper sheds light on a methodology that quantifies political populism (i.e. parliamentary populist rhetoric) in Greece through a novel textual dataset, which includes 16.5 years filled with heated debates over times of economic peaks and valleys. Combining computer with human intelligence to identify populism based upon a creative dictionary and strict definitional guidelines that fit the Hellenic ParliamentÕs context, helps one explore perspectives unimagined just a few years ago. Besides, as Greece has gone through a series of sharp, intense and generalized socio-economic shocks, this..

Positive Political Economics

Obvious Manipulability of Voting Rules

The Gibbard-Satterthwaite theorem states that no unanimous and non-dictatorial voting rule is strategyproof. We revisit voting rules and consider a weaker notion of strategyproofness called not obvious manipulability that was proposed by Troyan and Morrill (2020). We identify several classes of voting rules that satisfy this notion. We also show that several voting rules including k-approval fail to satisfy this property. We characterize conditions under which voting rules are obviously manipulable. One of our insights is that certain rules are obviously manipulable when the number of alternatives is relatively large compared to the number of voters. In contrast to the Gibbard-Satterthwaite ..

Positive Political Economics

Quantifying political populism and examining the link with economic insecurity: evidence from Greece

At this juncture of human history populism is ubiquitous and Greek politics constitute no exception. This paper sheds light on a methodology that quantifies political populism (i.e. parliamentary populist rhetoric) in Greece through a novel textual dataset, which includes 16.5 years filled with heated debates over times of economic peaks and valleys. Combining computer with human intelligence to identify populism based upon a creative dictionary and strict definitional guidelines that fit the Hellenic Parliament’s context, helps one explore perspectives unimagined just a few years ago. Besides, as Greece has gone through a series of sharp, intense and generalized socio-economic shocks, thi..

Positive Political Economics

Finite- and Large-Sample Inference for Ranks using Multinomial Data with an Application to Ranking Political Parties

It is common to rank different categories by means of preferences that are revealed through data on choices. A prominent example is the ranking of political candidates or parties using the estimated share of support each one receives in surveys or polls about political attitudes. Since these rankings are computed using estimates of the share of support rather than the true share of support, there may be considerable uncertainty concerning the true ranking of the political candidates or parties. In this paper, we consider the problem of accounting for such uncertainty by constructing confidence sets for the rank of each category. We consider both the problem of constructing marginal confidenc..

Positive Political Economics

The Poverty Effect of Democratization

In this paper we examine the interrelatedness between regime types of democracy and non-democracy and poverty reduction. The liberal international order and democratic principles have been challenged by the populace’s general discontent in recent years, while the reduction of poverty is a central goal of the global development agenda as embodied by the Sustainable Development Goals. Democracies could promote poverty reduction by encouraging redistribution, lifting barriers for poor people, or giving better access to the institutions of society. Democracies might hinder poverty reduction if they are captured by elites or become dysfunctional in general. Our data cover around 140 countr..

Positive Political Economics

Coase and the Scottish Political Economy Tradition

Coase’s work took a different approach to that of standard economics and he made a series of reflections over the years setting out his methodological views. He first employed this approach in his path-breaking paper on ‘The Nature of the Firm’, which was drafted while in his first academic post, at the Dundee School of Economics and Commerce. The distinctive Scottish political economy approach still dominated economics in Scotland at the time, although the Dundee School stood apart from it. The purpose of this paper is to consider how far Coase was influenced by being in Dundee, and in particular by the Scottish political economy tradition. We find little evidence of influence from th..

Positive Political Economics

Prosecutor Politics: The Impact of Election Cycles on Criminal Sentencing in the Era of Rising Incarceration

I investigate how political incentives affect the behavior of district attorneys (DAs). I develop a theoretical model that predicts DAs will increase sentencing intensity in an election period compared to the period prior. To empirically test this prediction, I compile one of the most comprehensive datasets to date on the political careers of all district attorneys in office during the steepest rise in incarceration in U.S. history (roughly 1986-2006). Using quasi-experimental methods, I find causal evidence that being in a DA election year increases total admissions per capita and total months sentenced per capita. I estimate that the election year effects on admissions are akin to moving 0..

Positive Political Economics

Democracy or Optimal Policy: Income Tax Decisions without Commitment

How do differences in the government’s political and commitment structure affect the aggregate economy, inequality, and welfare? I analyze this question, using a calibrated Aiyagari’s (1994) economy with wealth effects of labor supply wherein a flat tax rate and transfers are endogenously determined according to its political and commitment structure. I compare four economies: a baseline economy, an economy with the optimal tax with commitment in all steady states, an economy with the optimal tax without commitment, and a political economy with sequential voting. I obtain two main findings. First, the commitment structure shifts the government’s weighting between redistribution and eff..

Positive Political Economics

Postbellum Electoral Politics in California and the Genesis of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882

After the Civil War, the Democratic party carried an important electoral penalty from being associated with the war. To deal with this penalty, the party took increasingly anti-immigration positions to compete with Republicans. This led some Republican strongholds such as California to become competitive and also forced Republicans to embrace stricter immigration proposals. In this paper, we argue that adopting anti-immigration and raising awareness against immigration made California increasingly competitive in electoral terms. This electoral competitiveness can serve to explain the genesis of the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act.

Positive Political Economics

Free Trade and the Formation of Environmental Policy: Evidence from US Legislative Votes

We examine NAFTA’s effect on roll call votes on environmental legislation in the US House of Representatives. Our results suggest that reductions in US tariffs caused representatives of affected districts to significantly reduce their support for environmental policy, but reductions in Mexican tariffs did little to affect legislator behavior.

Positive Political Economics

Troll Farms and Voter Disinformation

Political agents often attempt to influence elections through "troll farms" that flood social media platforms with messages from fake accounts that emulate genuine information. We study the ability of troll farms to manipulate elections. We show that such disinformation tactics is more effective when voters are otherwise well-informed. Thus, for example, societies with high-quality media are more vulnerable to electoral manipulation.

Positive Political Economics

Does voting on tax fund destination imply a direct democracy effect?

Does giving taxpayers a voice over the destination of tax revenues lead to more honest income declarations? Previous experiments have shown that giving participants the opportunity to select the organization that receives their tax funds tends to increase tax compliance. The aim of this paper is to assess whether this increase in compliance is induced by the sole fact of giving subjects a choice — a "direct democracy effect". To that aim, we ask participants to a tax evasion game to choose, in a collective or individual choice setting, between two very similar organizations which provide the same social (ecological) benefits. We elicit compliance for both organizations before the choice is..

Positive Political Economics

Does political polarization affect economic expectations?: Evidence from three decades of cabinet shifts in Europe

Polarization can have economic effects if the hostility between political camps (i.e., affective polarization) shapes economic expectations. This paper shows that, in polarized contexts, agents disagree more over their expectations, and that partisan hostility – rather than differences in individual economic circumstances or beliefs about government policies – drives this disagreement. The causal impact of partisanship is identied from the discontinuity created by shifts in Prime Ministers’ cabinet. The study of 134 shifts between 1993 and 2019 in 27 European countries reveals that left and right supporters with identical circumstances and information sets update their expectations in ..

Positive Political Economics

Gender differences in re-contesting decisions: New evidence from French municipal elections

This paper studies differences across genders in the re-contesting decisions of politicians following electoral wins or defeats. Using close races in mixed-gender French local elections, we show that women are less likely to persist in competition when they lose compared to male runners-up, but are equally or more prone than male winners to re-contest when they win. Differences in observable characteristics or in the expected electoral returns of running again cannot fully account for these gender gaps in persistence. In contrast, the heterogeneity of the results across political ideology, age, experience and occupation suggests that behavioural explanations are at play. Additionally, we pro..

Positive Political Economics

Protection of natural and social resources. A political economy approach

This paper studies the set-up (following a voting process) of institutional arrangements related to the protection of natural and social resources in a context of inequalities and environmental challenges. To analyze how institutional and legislative protection arises, three socioeconomic groups are considered: the educated bourgeoisie, the working classes and the ?nancial elite. Groups are di¤erentiated according to the following divides. Individuals belonging to the ?nancial elite only rely on capital incomes: they invest on ?rms running either polluting or non-polluting activities. Individuals belonging to the ?rst two groups are di¤erentiated on the following levels: the demand for red..

Positive Political Economics

Potentials and Solutions of Cooperative Games.

This study considers strategic communication before voting. Voters have partially conflicting interests rather than common interests. That is, voters cannot tell whether a collective decision is a matter of truth, such as guilty or innocent, or a matter of taste, such as left or right. A set of imperfectly informed voters communicates before casting their votes. From a statistical perspective, truth-telling by all voters in deliberation, coupled with majority rule, may lead to desirable outcomes asymptotically as the population of voters increases. Thus, from a statistical perspective, increasing the population of voters is desirable. This study, however, shows that truthful communication is..

Positive Political Economics

Voting, contagion and the trade-off between public health and political rights: quasi-experimental evidence from the Italian 2020 polls

In September 2020, a national-level constitutional referendum held alongside local administrative elections took place in Italy, resulting in a 22% average increase in the referendum turnout rate where more than one poll occurred. We exploit this quasi-experimental setting to estimate the e ect of voters' turnout on the spread of COVID-19, by employing an event-study design with a two-stage Control Function strategy. The estimated elasticities show that post-poll new COVID infections increased by an average of 1.1% for each additional percentage point of turnout. The findings suggest that national-level polls have the possibility to amplify nation-wide waves of contagion if held during peak ..

Positive Political Economics

When Do Politicians Appeal Broadly? The Economic Consequences of Electoral Rules in Brazil

Electoral rules determine how voters' preferences are aggregated and translated into political representation, and their design can lead to the election of representatives who represent broader or narrower constituencies. Relying on a regression discontinuity design, I contrast single- and two-round elections in Brazilian municipal races. Two-round elections use two rounds of voting to elect a winner, ensuring that the eventual winner obtains at least 50% of the vote. Theoretically, this can provide incentives for candidates to secure a broader base of support. Consistent with this, I show that in two-round elections, candidates represent a more geographically diverse group of voters, public..

Positive Political Economics

Legislators in the Crossfire: The Effect of Transparency on Parliamentary Voting

Legislators are agents who serve two different principals: their constituents and their Party. Legislators are caught in the crossfire if their Party leaders' position contradicts the electorate's interests. Legislators care about their reputation with both principals as they are career-motivated. Making their votes public increases the incentive to use voting for reputation-building, and therefore distortion in group decision-making. This paper first shows that reputational concerns drive the decision to participate in a vote. Second, the French transparency reform of 2014 provides a quasi-natural setting for a Difference-in-Differences analysis. Greater transparency has led to less partici..

Positive Political Economics

Does Income Inequality enter into an Aggregate Model of Voter Turnout? Evidence from Canada and Indian States*

Conflict theory argues that greater income inequality induces greater political and electoral participation. Relative power theory argues that greater inequality leads to political alienation and electoral disengagement.

Positive Political Economics

Public Sector Entrepreneurship, Politics, and Innovation

We suggest that a political leader or a political administration can be described in terms of a public sector entrepreneurship framework. To illustrate, we define the actions of U.S. President Donald Trump’s Administration to refocus the emphasis of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as an innovative public policy initiative. And, we explore empirically the social consequences of those actions in terms of changes in the number of STEM employees at the EPA and the number of attendant innovative scientific publications.

Positive Political Economics

Immigrants as future voters

Immigration policies in western democracies have often been contrary to the policies predicted by the mainstream theory of international economics. In particular, political parties that, according to economic theory, should adopt policies beneficial for lower-income voter-constituencies, have not protected workers from labor-market competition or from a fiscal burden of financing welfare-dependent immigrants. We explain the contradiction by accounting for immigrants as future voters. We identify a political principal-agent problem based on ego-rents from political office. Our theory predicts voter defection from worker-supported political-establishment parties to new-entrant anti-immigration..

Positive Political Economics

Measuring Democracy - Eight indices: Polity, Freedom House and V-Dem

The paper is an empirical study of eight democracy indices and income. The aggregation problem for these indices is large, and thus the gray zone of measurement uncertainty is wide. The indices have no natural scale. Even the top anchor of full democracy is treated differently. In addition, the indices are conceptually different, use different scales, etc. However, they are still highly correlated. Income and all eight indices have one and only one common factor, which is the Democratic Transition, except in the OPEC/MENA sample. Within-project indices are even more correlated. Thus, the details of the assessments used by each project are more important than the conceptual differences. A cou..

Positive Political Economics

Do in-group biases lead to overconfidence in performance? Experimental evidence

Psychologists have long identified the tendency of humans to overestimate their skill relative to their peers (overplacement). We investigate whether this phenomenon is exacerbated by group affiliation: social identity theory predicts people evaluate in-group members more positively than out-group members, and we hypothesized that this differential treatment may result in greater overplacement when interacting with an out-group member. We tested this hypothesis with 301 US voters affiliated with either the Republican or Democratic party in the run-up to the 2020 Presidential election, a time when political identities were salient and highly polarized. We found there is a higher tendency for ..

Positive Political Economics

Promised land: settlement schemes in Kenya, 1962 to 2016

Smallholder settlement schemes have played a prominent role in Kenya's contested history of state-building, land politics, and electoral mobilization. This paper presents the first georeferenced dataset documenting scheme location, boundaries, and attributes of Kenya's 533 official settlement schemes, as well as the first systematic data on scheme creation since 1980. The data show that almost half of all government schemes were created after 1980, as official rural development rationales for state-sponsored settlement gave way to more explicitly welfarist and electoralist objectives. Even so, logics of state territorialization to fix ethnicized, partisan constituencies to state-defined terr..

Positive Political Economics

Stable Voting

In this paper, we propose a new single-winner voting system using ranked ballots: Stable Voting. The motivating principle of Stable Voting is that if a candidate A would win without another candidate B in the election, and A beats B in a head-to-head majority comparison, then A should still win in the election with B included (unless there is another candidate A' who has the same kind of claim to winning, in which case a tiebreaker may choose between A and A'). We call this principle Stability for Winners (with Tiebreaking). Stable Voting satisfies this principle while also having a remarkable ability to avoid tied outcomes in elections even with small numbers of voters.

Positive Political Economics

Voting like your betters: the bandwagon effect in the diet of the Holy Roman Empire

Scholars agree that a core feature of the political style of the Holy Roman Empire was the focus on consensus, without which policies at the level of the Empire were impossible. The present article demonstrates that the consensus on which decisions of the imperial estates was based tended to be superficial and was often in danger of breaking down. This was because the diet’s open and sequential voting procedure allowed the bandwagon effect to distort outcomes. An analysis of the votes cast in the princes’ college of the diet of 1555 shows that low-status members of the college regularly imitated the decisions of high-status voters. Reforming the system would have required accepting that ..

Positive Political Economics

Partisan selective exposure in news consumption

The development of online social media has raised concerns about how individuals are overexposed to partisan news. However, social media are only a part of the daily media diet of an average consumer (Allcott and Gentzkow, 2017; Allen et al., 2020, Guess et al., 2019). The aim of this paper is therefore to examine partisan news exposure with respect to the entire media diet. We develop a partisan selective exposure index that indicates the over-representation of partisan political opinions in individual daily news consumption. Our analysis of data from a survey of 4000 representative individuals in France regarding their news consumption and political stance shows that on average, partisan e..

Positive Political Economics

Faithful accounting in MMP-elections

In MMP-elections for legislatures, political parties compete for a voter’s support in two ways: for a first vote to the party’s candidate in a single-seat constituency and for a second vote to the party’s list of candidates. To obtain party representation proportional to the second votes, a nationwide second vote tally compensates with list seats to parties with a sub-proportional number of constituency seats. The German Bundestag has 299 constituency seats, and 299 list seats is the legal norm, but it got 410 list seats in the 2017 election. This deviation also violates a principle, stated by the federal constitutional court, that voters have equal influence. First and second vote may..

Positive Political Economics

Concentration of power and Populism's Rise in America: evidence from recent US elections

What explains the recent rise of undesirable populist mobilization in US politics? In this paper, I examine the hypothesis that the rise of undesirable populist politics is related to the increased concentration of power on the US president. After presenting the main theoretical arguments, I use Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES) survey data from the 2008, 2012 and 2016 elections to explore whether perceived power structure can explain the rise of populism. I find that more concentrated power is indeed linked to clusters of undesirable populist mobilization. That is, concentrated power is associated with political mobilization based on constructed cleavages (e.g. identity such a..

Positive Political Economics