Milena Djourelova, Ruben Durante, 17 November 2019

It is often suspected that politicians time announcements of controversial policies strategically to avoid public scrutiny. This column reports evidence from a systematic analysis of executive orders issued by US presidents, showing that their timing is consistent with strategic behaviour. Presidents tend to issue executive orders, and specifically ones that are likely to generate negative publicity, in coincidence with other important events that distract the media and the public.

Li Yang, Filip Novokmet, Branko Milanovic, 09 October 2019

The historically unprecedented economic and social transformation in China over the past four decades has seen urban areas becoming much richer, but also much more unequal. This column analyses changes in the Chinese urban elite. It finds that, compared to the 1980s, the elite today consists mainly of professionals, self-employed, and smaller and larger business people, they are much better educated, and they receive a much greater share of total urban income. This is reflected also in the composition of the Communist Party of China.

Yasmine Bekkouche, Julia Cagé, 14 September 2019

There is growing concern that money has corrupted politics. This column uses data from French elections since 1993 to show that an increase in spending per voter has consistently increased a candidate’s vote share. Caps on spending may increase this impact, as marginal effects are large. The price of a vote varies widely, and is most expensive for the extreme right. 

Alma Cohen, Moshe Hazan, Roberto Tallarita, David Weiss, 24 July 2019

With power over corporate resources as well as stature and prestige in the economic system, public-company CEOs to have sizeable influence over policy and political decisions. This column examines the political donations of more than 3,800 US CEOs of S&P 1500 companies to analyse their political preferences over time, across industries and geographical regions, and by gender. It shows that US public company CEOs have a significant preference for Republicans, who may benefit from public companies’ expanded freedom to spend money on politics.

Vitezslav Titl, Benny Geys, 13 January 2019

Despite public concerns about the role and influence of big donors on politics, questions remain regarding the mechanisms behind political favouritism to donor corporations. Using 2006–2014 data on political donations and public procurement allocations in the Czech Republic, this column finds that firms that increase their donations to a political party see the value of their public procurement contracts rise in the following year. Contracting authorities appear to engage in different forms of strategic behaviour to favour corporate donors, who tend to face fewer competitors in more regulated and open procurement procedures.

Thomas Le Barbanchon, Julien Sauvagnat, 08 December 2018

Despite many efforts to close the gender gap, women remain underrepresented in politics. This column shows that in the case of France, voters’ preferences towards gender shapes political selection and ultimately the gender composition of elected politicians. This suggests that gender parity in policymaking relies on improving the slow-changing attitudes of voters towards male and female political candidates.

Nathan Nunn, Nancy Qian, Jaya Wen, 29 September 2018

Cultural values and beliefs have an impact on social and economic development, but the interplay between culture and political institutions is still not well understood. This column examines the effect of trust on political stability in democratic and non-democratic regimes, specifically in the face of severe economic downturns. It finds that democratic regimes with high levels of trust are much less likely to experience leader turnover than low-trust countries, while there is no effect among non-democracies, and that countries with higher levels of trust experience faster economic growth in the years immediately following a recession. 

Jakob Molinder, Kerstin Enflo, Tobias Karlsson, 20 September 2018

Conflicts in the labour market are detrimental to economic growth and welfare. Sweden was among the countries with the highest incidents of industrial disputes in the 1920s, but experienced declining levels from the 1930s onward. Using Swedish data from 1919 to 1938, this column shows that towns with both powerful unions and strong Social Democratic presence experienced labour market peace. The results point toward the importance of labour market peace for strategic political reasons, rather than to politicians offering tangible concessions via municipal governmental power.

Marianne Bertrand, Matilde Bombardini, Raymond Fisman, Francesco Trebbi, 03 September 2018

Special interests use donations to influence the political process. This column shows that philanthropic efforts in the US are targeted, at least in part, to influence legislators. Districts with influential politicians receive more donations, as do non-profits with politicians on their boards. This is problematic because, unlike PAC contributions and lobbying, influence by charity is hard for the public to observe.

Paul Tucker, 18 June 2018

The last few decades have seen a shift of power from elected to unelected officials - inlcuding central bankers, regulators, and the judiciary. Sir Paul Tucker introduces his research on how the broad mandate given to independent policymakers is at odds with their ability to retain power when their policies fail. This video was recorded at the Imperial College Business School.

Roger Farmer, 29 May 2018

Simon Wren-Lewis, 12 May 2018

Ashoka Mody, 01 April 2018

K. Kıvanç Karaman, Sevket Pamuk, Seçil Yıldırım-Karaman, 24 February 2018

There is a notable lack of long-run analyses of monetary systems and their stability. This column addresses this gap by looking at the monetary systems of major European states between 1300 and 1914. The evidence collected suggests that, despite many switches between standards and systems, fiscal capacity and political regimes ultimately shaped patterns of monetary stability. Theories of monetary stability that rely on the mechanics of monetary systems perform poorly when such a long-run perspective is taken.

Paolo Manasse, Dimitris Katsikas, 01 February 2018

The basic ingredients of the policy prescriptions in response to the euro area debt crisis were quite similar across Southern Europe. This column explores the economic, political, and institutional factors that differentially affected the success of these prescriptions from country to country. Policy timing and sequencing, the balance between fiscal consolidation and structural reforms, and external constraints all play crucial roles. Future reform programmes should be calibrated to the distinct economic, social, and political features of targeted countries.

Graziella Bertocchi, Arcangelo Dimico, Francesco Lancia, Alessia Russo, 07 December 2017

Voter turnout in modern democracies tends to be lowest among the young, and politicians are likely to be less responsive to their demands as a result. This column focuses on preregistration, a reform aimed at facilitating voter registration among young Americans. Examining the link between the political participation of various age groups and policy decisions, it shows that adopting preregistration has shifted government spending toward higher education and increased student financial aid, and has promoted an episode of youth enfranchisement.

Roel Beetsma, Ward Romp, Ron van Maurik, 13 November 2017

Population ageing means that many current pension regimes are unsustainable, but the timing of pension reform measures is a political as well as an economic decision. This column uses new data on OECD pension reforms since 1970 to show that their timing has not been driven by projected demographic developments or political change, but by the state of the economy at the time when reforms were legislated. Pension systems have expanded more frequently during booms, and have contracted during economic downturns.

Levi Boxell, 01 October 2017

The internet has received a substantial amount of blame for the recent increase in political polarisation. Using US data, this column argues that, in fact, the internet has played no significant role in a generally increasing trend of political polarisation that goes back at least to the 1970s. The results highlight the importance of looking beyond convenient narrative explanations, and the need for a deeper understanding of the drivers of political sentiment.

Hannes Mueller, Dominic Rohner, David Schönholzer, 12 July 2017

The nature of military and social conflict has changed in the last three decades, particularly in the way it impacts civilians locally. This column presents new research that models localised conflict based on the spatial configuration of groups, using evidence from conflict in Northern Ireland. The model can help target policies at the origin of attacks and with attempts to change the interaction between local groups, reducing conflict in the short-to-medium term.

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