Findings

Social contracts

Kevin Lewis

January 08, 2014

Constitutional verbosity and social trust

Christian Bjørnskov & Stefan Voigt
Public Choice, forthcoming

Abstract:
A common argument in the trust literature is that high-trust cultures allow efficient commercial contracts to be shorter, covering fewer contingencies. We take this idea to the topic of social contracts. Specifically, we ask whether social trust affects the length and detail of constitutions. Cross-country estimates suggest that national trust levels are indeed robustly and negatively associated with the length of countries’ constitutions.

----------------------

Social capital and political institutions: Evidence that democracy fosters trust

Martin Ljunge
Economics Letters, January 2014, Pages 44–49

Abstract:
This paper finds evidence that more democratic political institutions increase trust. Second generation immigrants with ancestries from 115 countries are studied within 30 European countries. Comparing individuals born and residing in the same country, those whose father was born in a more democratic country express higher trust than those whose father was born in a less democratic country. The results are robust to individual, parental, and ancestral country controls.

----------------------

Civil War Spain Versus Swedish Harmony: The Quality of Government Factor

Victor Lapuente & Bo Rothstein
Comparative Political Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
In 1936, while Sweden gave birth to one of the most peaceful solutions to class conflict (i.e., the neo-corporatist welfare state), Spain gave birth to one of the most violent outcomes of class conflict: the Spanish Civil War. Why did the political and socio-economic elites choose collaboration in Sweden and violent confrontation in Spain? This article underlines an overlooked intervening factor: the organization of the bureaucracy. In the late 19th century, semi-authoritarian Sweden created a meritocratic autonomous bureaucracy. In contrast, Spain — where executive and administrative positions were frequently accountable to parliamentary dynamics — built a patronage-based administration. The result was that the ruling Swedish Left could not offer public offices to core supporters and had to restrict its policies to satisfy the (more collaborationist) demands of its “policy-seekers,” while the ruling Spanish Left, thanks to the ample margin of maneuver it enjoyed to appoint and promote state officials, could satisfy the (more confrontational) demands of its “office-seekers.”

----------------------

All Quiet on Election Day? International Election Observation and Incentives for Pre-Election Violence in African Elections

Ursula Daxecker
Electoral Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper argues that the increasing international interest in elections as exemplified by the rise of international election monitoring induces temporal shifts in the use of violent intimidation by political actors. The presence of international electoral missions lowers the potential for election-day violence relative to the pre-election period because domestic actors likely refrain from intimidating opposition candidates or voters before the eyes of international observers, but creates incentives for political actors to engage in violent manipulation in parts of the electoral process receiving considerably less international attention, such as the pre-election period. The paper expects that international election observation increases the incidence of violent manipulation during electoral campaigns. An empirical analysis of election-related violence for African elections in the 1990-2009 period shows that the presence of election observers increases the incidence of pre-election violence, but has no effect on election-day violence.

----------------------

Economic Development Assumptions and the Elusive Curse of Oil

Ryan Kennedy & Lydia Tiede
International Studies Quarterly, December 2013, Pages 760–771

Abstract:
Scholars have argued that oil resources lead to poor quality institutions and governance, which causes slower economic growth, an increased propensity for civil war, and other maladies. Such conclusions, however, rest on strong modernization assumptions that oil resources are unrelated or detrimental to the level of economic development. Utilizing a unique multilevel version of extreme bounds analysis (EBA), we find that oil's deleterious effects on governance are not well established. Instead, when we relax strong assumptions about the exogeneity of economic development and utilize more objective indicators of institutional quality, oil has a net positive impact on governance. Moreover, when accounting for endogeneity, there is little to suggest either an intervening or independent effect of poor governance on civil conflict in petro-states.

----------------------

Unintended Social Consequences of Introducing Electoral Competition: Evidence from a Natural Experiment in Indonesia

Yusaku Horiuchi, Daniel Suryadarma & Akhmad Akbar Susamto
Dartmouth College Working Paper, November 2013

Abstract:
Direct elections for the chief executives in post-democratization Indonesia started to take place in July 2005 and often trigged violent incidents. In this paper, we estimate how these first elections affected voters’ social attitudes and opinions about their society. Our strategy to identify causal effects is to leverage a variation in the election timing that acts “as if” it is random for historical reasons. By combining this institutional setting and the timing of a nationwide survey administered in 2006, we have a rare opportunity to understand social consequences of introducing electoral competition. Our results show that respondents who had experienced the first election before the survey was administered, as compared to those who had not, were more likely to report disputes/conflicts in their districts, to refrain from participating in community activities/programs, and to distrust others. We argue that competition under a poor electoral administration – as often seen in new democracies – is likely to produce unintended negative social consequences, which may hinder the process of democratic consolidation.

----------------------

Aid Under Fire: Development Projects and Civil Conflict

Benjamin Crost, Joseph Felter & Patrick Johnston
American Economic Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
We estimate the causal effect of a large development program on conflict in the Philippines through a regression discontinuity design that exploits an arbitrary poverty threshold used to assign eligibility for the program. We find that barely eligible municipalities experienced a large increase in conflict casualties compared to barely ineligible ones. This increase is mostly due to insurgent-initiated incidents in the early stages of program-preparation. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that insurgents try to sabotage the program because its success would weaken their support in the population.

----------------------

The Violence Trap: A Political-Economic Approach to the Problems of Development

Gary Cox, Douglass North & Barry Weingast
Stanford Working Paper, September 2013

Abstract:
Why do developing countries fail to adopt the institutions and policies that promote development? Our answer is the violence trap. The trap is set by the unavoidable interdependence of economic and political development. Key political reforms — opening access and reducing the risk of state predation — are typically feasible only when the domestic economy reaches a given level of specialization and integration (for reasons we specify); yet the economy typically can only reach the required threshold of development when key political reforms are already in place (for standard reasons). The trap entails violence because, as we show, the structure of unreformed polities (natural states) ensures poor adaptive efficiency. Following shocks to the distribution of military and economic power and bargaining to adjust to the shocks often fail among those with access to violence, due to the low economic cost of violence, asymmetric information, and commitment problems. Indeed, we show that violence is endemic in the developing world, with the median regime experiencing violent leadership turnover once every eight years. The trap is hard to escape because whenever overt violence breaks out, leaders seeking to restore order face an unspecialized economy, to which the best response is yet another unreformed polity. Indeed, the limits on access and rents characteristic of natural states are necessary to re-establish peace. Yet, these rents and limits also deter specialization, thereby keeping the economic costs of resorting to force low and ensuring that future bargaining will be in the shadow of viable military outside options.

----------------------

Centralized Institutions and Cascades

Jared Rubin
Journal of Comparative Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Why do sudden and massive social, economic, and political changes occur when and where they do? Are there institutional preconditions that encourage such changes when present and discourage such changes when absent? I employ a general model which suggests that cascades which induce massive equilibrium changes are more likely to occur in regimes with centralized coercive power, defined as the ability to impose more than one type of sanction (economic, legal, political, social, or religious). Centralized authorities are better able to suppress subversive actions when external shocks are small, as citizens have little incentive to incur numerous types of sanctions. However, citizens are also more likely to lie about their internal preferences in such regimes (e.g., falsely declare loyalty to an oppressive government), entailing that larger shocks are more likely to trigger a cascade to a vastly different equilibrium. The model is applied to the severity of protests that followed austerity measures taken in developing nations since the 1970s.

----------------------

An Agent-Based Model of Centralized Institutions, Social Network Technology, and Revolution

Michael Makowsky & Jared Rubin
PLoS ONE, November 2013

Abstract:
This paper sheds light on the general mechanisms underlying large-scale social and institutional change. We employ an agent-based model to test the impact of authority centralization and social network technology on preference falsification and institutional change. We find that preference falsification is increasing with centralization and decreasing with social network range. This leads to greater cascades of preference revelation and thus more institutional change in highly centralized societies and this effect is exacerbated at greater social network ranges. An empirical analysis confirms the connections that we find between institutional centralization, social radius, preference falsification, and institutional change.

----------------------

Dishonesty and Selection into Public Service

Rema Hanna & Shing-Yi Wang
NBER Working Paper, November 2013

Abstract:
In this paper, we demonstrate that university students who cheat on a simple task in a laboratory setting are more likely to state a preference for entering public service. Importantly, we also show that cheating on this task is predictive of corrupt behavior by real government workers, implying that this measure captures a meaningful propensity towards corruption. Students who demonstrate lower levels of prosocial preferences in the laboratory games are also more likely to prefer to enter the government, while outcomes on explicit, two-player games to measure cheating and attitudinal measures of corruption do not systematically predict job preferences. We find that a screening process that chooses the highest ability applicants would not alter the average propensity for corruption among the applicant pool. Our findings imply that differential selection into government may contribute, in part, to corruption. They also emphasize that screening characteristics other than ability may be useful in reducing corruption, but caution that more explicit measures may offer little predictive power.

----------------------

Votes and Violence: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Nigeria

Paul Collier & Pedro Vicente
Economic Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
Elections are now common in low-income societies. However, they are frequently flawed. We investigate a Nigerian election marred by violence. We designed and conducted a nationwide field experiment based on anti-violence campaigning. The campaign appealed to collective action through electoral participation, and worked through town meetings, popular theatres, and door-to-door distribution of materials. We find that the campaign decreased violence perceptions and increased empowerment to counteract violence. We observe a rise in voter turnout, and infer that the intimidation was dissociated from incumbents. These effects are accompanied by a reduction in the intensity of actual violence, as measured by journalists.

----------------------

Refining the Oil Curse: Country-Level Evidence From Exogenous Variations in Resource Income

Yu-Ming Liou & Paul Musgrave
Comparative Political Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
Is there a resource curse? Some scholars argue that resource income is associated with slower transitions to democracy; others contend that the negative effects of resources are conditional on factors such as institutional quality. To test these competing hypotheses, this article exploits the price spike caused by the 1973 oil embargo, which transformed several countries with latent oil industries into resource-reliant states. Our quasi-experimental research design allows for better identification of causation than the associational approaches common in the literature. We use the method of synthetic controls to compare the political development of states that received resource-derived revenue with how these states would have behaved in a counterfactual world without such revenue. We find that there is little evidence that a resource curse systematically prevents democratization or that institutional quality alone determines outcomes. Nevertheless, resource income meaningfully affects outcomes and even contributes to democratization in some instances.

----------------------

Baltic Dry Index and the Democratic Window of Opportunity

Faqin Lin & Nicholas Sim
Journal of Comparative Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
In their seminal paper, Brückner and Ciccone [Brückner, M., Ciccone, A., 2011. Rain and the democratic window of opportunity. Econometrica 79(3), 923-947] document that a significant effect of democratic change may be triggered by negative transitory economic shocks, and that rainfall can open a democratic window of opportunity in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). As a complement, this paper uses within-country variation in the Baltic Dry Index (BDI) as a source of transitory negative income shocks to SSA countries. The BDI reflects the cost of utilizing dry bulk carriers, which are specially designed vessels for transporting primary goods internationally, where these goods dominate the output and export sectors of the SSA economies. We find that positive BDI cost shocks are followed by significant contraction in income through trade channel and significant improvement in democratic institutions, where BDI can open a window of opportunity for democratic improvement. Instrumental variables estimates indicate that following a negative income shock of one percentage point, democracy scores improve by around 4-5 percentage points on average.

----------------------

Do Elected Leaders in a Limited Democracy Have Real Power? Evidence from Rural China

Ren Mu & Xiaobo Zhang
Journal of Development Economics, March 2014, Pages 17–27

Abstract:
Do elected leaders in an authoritarian regime have any real power? Does grassroots democracy in a one-party state entail parochial problems? Making use of primary survey data covering two election cycles in a mountainous area of China, where an administrative village consists of several natural villages (NVs), we find that elected village heads favor their home NVs in resource allocations, especially when these NVs have a large population. In contrast, the home NVs of appointed Communist Party secretaries do not receive disproportionately more resources, on average. This pattern of resource allocation is compatible with the interest of village heads and suggests that as elected leaders, village heads have some true power in resource distribution.

----------------------

Loyalty for sale? Military spending and coups d’etat

Gabriel Leon
Public Choice, forthcoming

Abstract:
Coups d’etat continue to be common around the world, often leading to changes in leaders and institutions. We examine the relationship between military spending and coups and find that (i) successful coups increase military spending by more than failed attempts, and (ii) coups are more likely when military spending as a share of GDP is relatively low. Our identification strategy deals with the problem of reverse causality between coups and military spending by exploiting the conditional independence between a coup’s outcome and the change in military spending that follows it. We interpret our results as evidence that the military may stage coups in order to increase its funding, and rule out several alternative explanations.

----------------------

Pocketbook Protests: Explaining the Emergence of Pro-Democracy Protests Worldwide

Dawn Brancati
Comparative Political Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
Why do pro-democracy protests emerge in some countries at certain periods of time and not others? Pro-democracy protests, I argue, are more likely to arise when the economy is not performing well and people blame the autocratic nature of their regime for the economy, than when the economy is performing well, or when people do not blame the nature of their regime for the poor state of the economy. People are more likely to associate the economy with the nature of their regime, I further argue, in election periods, particularly when people are unable to remove the incumbent government from power through elections. My argument is supported by a statistical analysis of pro-democracy protests in 158 countries between 2006 and 2011, showing that not only is the economy an important factor explaining the emergence of pro-democracy protests, but that other factors commonly thought to affect these protests, including technologies like cell phones and the Internet, are not.

----------------------

Democratic Pieces: Autocratic Elections and Democratic Development since 1815

Michael Miller
British Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article overviews the history of autocratic elections since 1815 and then tests how a country's experience with autocratic elections influences both democratization and democratic survival. To comprehensively capture this history, the study employs original measures of Robert Dahl's electoral dimensions of contestation and participation. First, it shows that autocratic elections have been common for centuries, but that their character has changed dramatically over time. Whereas high contestation almost always preceded high participation prior to 1940, the opposite occurs in modern regimes. Secondly, it demonstrates that a country's history of contestation predicts both democratization and democratic survival, whereas participation is positive for survival but generally negative for democratization. Thus, democracies are more likely to survive if they experience autocratic elections prior to democratizing, which has implications for democracy promotion and future political development.

----------------------

When Will Collective Action Be Effective? Violent and Non-Violent Protests Differentially Influence Perceptions of Legitimacy and Efficacy Among Sympathizers

Emma Thomas & Winnifred Louis
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
Collective action will be effective in achieving broader social change goals to the extent that it influences public opinion yet the degree to which collective action “works” in changing opinion is rarely studied. Experiment 1 (n = 158) showed that, consistent with a logic of strategic non-violence, non-violent collective action more effectively conveys a sense of the illegitimacy of the issue and the efficacy of the group, thereby promoting support for future non-violent actions. Experiment 2 (n = 139) explored the moderating role of allegations of corruption. A social context of corruption effectively undermined the efficacy and legitimacy of non-violent collective action, relative to support for violence, thereby promoting (indirectly) support for future extreme action. The implications of this research, for the logic of strategic non-violence and mobilizing supportive public opinion, are discussed.

----------------------

Strategic redistribution: The political economy of populism in Latin America

Gabriel Leon
European Journal of Political Economy, forthcoming

Abstract:
Why do some countries in Latin America redistribute too much ("left-wing populism"), while others allow high levels of inequality to persist or even increase over time ("neo-liberalism")? We argue that when a group’s political influence is increasing in its wealth, there is a strategic motive for redistribution: by taking money away from a group, its ability to influence future policy is reduced. Populism arises when the poor respond to this strategic motive, while neo-liberalism results when the rich use their wealth to limit redistribution. Assuming that wealth increases political influence because it enables a group to stage a coup, we find that populism is both more likely and more extreme when the military is biased in favor of the rich. We conclude by discussing the policies of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and Alberto Fujimori in Peru in light of our findings.

----------------------

Who Wants to Be a Communist? Career Incentives and Mobilized Loyalty in China

Bruce Dickson
China Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article analyses trends in the Chinese Communist Party's recruitment strategy and the composition of Party members. Based on original survey data, it analyses the motives for joining the CCP, the consequences on career mobility, and the effects of Party membership on political beliefs and behaviour in contemporary China. These data reveal three key findings. First, for those who aspire to positions in the Party/government bureaucracy or SOEs, Party membership is a necessary, if not sufficient, condition; for those in the non-state sector, it is youth and college education that are the keys to top jobs, and not Party membership. Second, CCP members are more likely to donate time, money, and even blood, for various causes, and to vote in local people's congress elections. This behaviour demonstrates mobilized loyalty: the CCP mobilizes its members to participate in these activities to demonstrate their loyalty to the regime and to serve as examples to the rest of the population. Third, Party members are not more likely to support and trust their state institutions: while they do have higher levels of support for the centre than the rest of population generally, Party membership does not produce increased support for the local state. Nor does economic development: all else being equal, support for central and local party-state institutions is lower in the most developed cities. These findings call into question the Party's recruitment and development policies, as well as the conventional wisdom on the link between economic development and popular support for the status quo.

----------------------

China's land market auctions: Evidence of corruption?

Hongbin Cai, Vernon Henderson & Qinghua Zhang
RAND Journal of Economics, Fall 2013, Pages 488–521

Abstract:
In China, urban land is allocated by leasehold sales by local officials. Attempting to end widespread corruption, the government now requires sales to be conducted publicly, by either English or “two-stage” auctions. However, corruption persists through the choice of auction format and preauction side deals between favored bidders and local officials. Two-stage auctions have a first stage where favored developers signal that auctions are “taken,” deterring entry of other bidders. Empirics show that both sales prices and competition are significantly less for two-stage than English auctions. Selection on unobserved property characteristics is positive: officials divert hotter properties to two-stage auctions.

----------------------

Territorial Peace and Democratic Clustering

Douglas Gibler & Jaroslav Tir
Journal of Politics, January 2014, Pages 27-40

Abstract:
A consistent and robust finding in the democratic peace literature is that democracies tend to cluster together. The explanations for clustering rely on several factors, including democratic demonstration effects and aid from democracies to nascent opposition groups in nondemocratic countries. This article questions the logic of the clustering approach, both theoretically and empirically. Further, we develop an argument predicting democratic transitions based on the level of territorial threat targeting the state: high levels of threat cause political centralization and inhibit democratization; low levels of threat allow for decentralization and democratization. This approach explains how democratic transitions are linked to international borders and imply geographic clustering. Analyses of the post-World War II period are supportive of our arguments even when controlling for clustering-based predictors.

----------------------

Democracy, Clan Politics and Weak Governance: The Case of the Arab Municipalities in Israel

Yakub Halabi
Israel Studies, Spring 2014, Pages 98-125

Abstract:
The Arab citizens of Israel lived until the late 1940s in self-sufficient, semi-autonomous villages, where the majority of them were peasants who finished elementary school at most. During the 1950s and 1960s, the government of Israel started to establish local municipalities, whose head and council would be elected in free and fair democratic elections. This article examines, first, how the traditional social unit, the clan or extended family, has dominated the democratic municipal institutions since their establishment. Second, what is the strength of the municipal institutions in upholding the rule of law and extracting direct property taxes from a clan society? The article concludes that the municipal institution in the Arab towns has emerged as a weak institution that has been unable to impose the rule of law or extract taxes from the village residents, thus providing poor services to the residents in return. This weakness and poor performance is attributed to two factors: discrimination by the state of Israel in allocating resources to the Arab municipalities and the clan politics that has obstructed the municipal attempts of penetrating society and extracting taxes.

----------------------

Violence during democratization and the quality of democratic institutions

Matteo Cervellati, Piergiuseppe Fortunato & Uwe Sunde
European Economic Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article investigates the impact of violent civil conflicts during the process of democratization on the institutional quality of the emerging democracies. We propose a theory of endogenous regime transition in which violent conflict can arise in equilibrium. Peaceful transitions lead to a social contract that provides all groups with political representation and leads to better protection of civil liberties than violent transitions. Empirical evidence from the third wave of democratization based on a difference-in-difference methodology supports the theoretical predictions. The findings suggest that, compared to peaceful transitions, violent conflicts during the democratic transition have persistent negative effects on the institutional quality of the emerging democracies.

----------------------

Dynamics of Political Resistance in Tibet: Religious Repression and Controversies of Demographic Change

Enze Han & Christopher Paik
China Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
In a novel approach to studying political mobilization among ethnic Tibetans in China, this article addresses two key questions. First, considering the Chinese state's repressive policies towards Tibetan Buddhism, what role does religion play in fomenting Tibetan political resistance? Second, what implications can be drawn from the changing ethnic demography in Tibet about the conflict behaviour of Tibetans? Using various GIS-referenced data, this article specifically examines the 2008 Tibetan protest movements in China. The main results of our analysis indicate that the spread and frequency of protests in ethnic Tibetan areas are significantly associated with the number of officially registered Tibetan Buddhist sites, as well as the historical dominance of particular types of Tibetan religious sects. Furthermore, our analysis shows that the effect of Han Chinese settlement on Tibetan political activism is more controversial than previously thought.


Sign-in to your National Affairs subscriber account.


Already a subscriber? Activate your account.


subscribe

Unlimited access to intelligent essays on the nation’s affairs.

SUBSCRIBE
Subscribe to National Affairs.