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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Symposium: Democracy and Its Development 2005-2011

The Center for the Study of Democracy at UC Irvine publishes working papers on topics of empirical democratic studies. Like the Center itself, the topics may range from the problems of democratic transitions to the expansion of the democratic process in advanced industrial democracies. The series is multidisciplinary in its research approach, as well as diverse in its definition of democratization topics.

The CSD newsletters and research papers of the Center published before July 2001 are available on the CSD website at the University of California, Irvine.

Graeme Boushey, Director
Center for the Study of Democracy
3151 Social Science Plaza
University of California
Irvine, CA 92697-5100
democracy@uci.edu

Nathan Chan
Associate Editor, CSD Research Series
nkchan@uci.edu


Cover page of Inequality and Economic Growth: Bridging the Short-run and the Long-run

Inequality and Economic Growth: Bridging the Short-run and the Long-run

(2011)

I analyze the effect of inequality on growth over different time-frames. In a large cross-country dataset for the period 1950-2007 I find evidence of a short-run (5-year periods) and medium-run (10-year periods) inverse-U relationship between inequality and growth. In the long-run (20-year periods), however, inequality has a negative effect on growth in poor countries, and a positive effect in rich ones. Finally, in the 37-year period (1970-2007) higher inequality is associated with a lower rate of growth. Thus, while some (but not much) inequality is good for growth, the negative effect of inequality on growth becomes dominant over longer time-frames.

Cover page of Family Matters: Testing the Effect of Political Connections in Italy

Family Matters: Testing the Effect of Political Connections in Italy

(2011)

Using a new dataset of Italian publicly traded companies between 1994 and 2008, this paper aims to quantify the value of different types of political connections. Conducting an event study on stock returns, we examine how the stocks of connected companies perform before and after the politicians to whom they are connected are either elected to Parliament, or appointed as government ministers. First, we check whether political connections in general lead to abnormally positive returns. Then, we ask whether political connections have a different effect on stock returns, depending on whether companies have politicians themselves (direct connection) or some of their relatives (indirect connection) among their administrators. Finally, we test the hypothesis that connections are effective only when the politicians are members of the governing coalition. Contrary to most studies, political connections are not always associated with positive stock returns. Taking stock performance as a proxy for the benefits of connections, we conclude that only certain political connections are in fact valuable to companies. Being connected with the (future) governing coalition has the predicted positive effect, whereas gaining or maintaining a connection with the opposition coalition has no effect, or even a negative effect. Also, only indirect connections are found to increase the company’s value, while direct connections are not. However, given the size and composition of our sample, we cannot confidently conclude that indirect connections do differ from direct ones.

Cover page of The Influence of the Gender Gap in Parliamentarian Support for Reproductive Rights: Comparisons across Western Europe

The Influence of the Gender Gap in Parliamentarian Support for Reproductive Rights: Comparisons across Western Europe

(2008)

I test seven explanations the function of gender in parliamentarian support for abortion policy by comparing the differences in attitudes between women and men national and European parliamentarians across 15 democracies in Western Europe. I consider the influence of the social policy environment of a parliamentarian’s nation, women’s autonomous access to resources in a parliamentarian’s nation, the mass orientations of a parliamentarian’s nation, the party family to which the parliamentarian belongs, the ideology of the parliamentarian, the institutional design elements of the parliamentarian’s nation, and the gender composition of the representational body in which the parliamentarian resides.

Cover page of Two Paths to Populism: Explaining Peru’s First Episode of Populist Mobilization

Two Paths to Populism: Explaining Peru’s First Episode of Populist Mobilization

(2008)

Both major contenders in Peru’s 1931 presidential contest made populist mobilization a centerpiece of their political strategies. Never before had a candidate for national office so completely flouted traditional channels of political power and so thoroughly staked his political aspirations on the mobilization of support from non-elite segments of the population. This paper asks: Why did these two candidates pursue novel populist strategies at this particular historical juncture? The first part of the paper identifies the conditions that encouraged Peruvian politicians to pursue populist mobilization in 1931; it also explains why populist mobilization had never before been undertaken in Peru. An adequate explanation of populist mobilization, however, must also trace the social processes by which objective conditions translate into the selection of specific lines of action by political leaders. The second part of this paper thus assesses the socially-conditioned strategic vision of the various political actors operating in 1931. Only by adding this second step to the inquiry is it possible to answer the question of why, if all encountered the same objective conditions, some actors in the political field pursued populist strategies while others did not. Ultimately, I identify two paths to populist mobilization: an ideological route and an accidental route. Other political actors chose not to pursue populist mobilization for one of two reasons: some saw it as going too far in undermining the elite bases of the traditional political structure; others saw it as not going far enough toward fostering revolutionary change.

Cover page of Tax Man Cometh: Income Taxation as a Measure of State Capacity

Tax Man Cometh: Income Taxation as a Measure of State Capacity

(2008)

We adopt a definition of state capacity that focuses on policy implementation and propose to measure the construct by examining the proportion of total tax revenue from income taxes. We make three major contributions in this paper. First, unlike other scholars, we focus explicitly on income tax collection rather than looking at overall tax collection. Second, we demonstrate the construct validity of our measure. Third, we compare our measure to the most commonly used indicator for state capacity, tax/GDP, to demonstrate the construct validity of that measure and how ours performs better for our large sample of cases.

Cover page of Is Sunshine the Best Disinfectant? The Causal Relationship between Media Freedom and Democratization

Is Sunshine the Best Disinfectant? The Causal Relationship between Media Freedom and Democratization

(2008)

This article seeks to contribute to the literature on democratization by examining the media’s causal relationship to political liberalization. First, I briefly review the major theoretical research regarding democratization and the media. I then provide an account of why media freedom contributes to democratic development. Specifically, I highlight two causal mechanisms, The Civil Society Function and The Opposition Function. The Civil Society Function, most often carried out in the print media, describes the media’s role in facilitating a public sphere in which elites can communicate. In contrast, in accordance with The Opposition Function, the media furthers political liberalization by increasing the public’s awareness of alternative political candidates. Because of its vast distribution, the broadcast media best performs The Opposition Function. The case of Mexico is examined to provide a concrete illustration of each of these functions of the media in relation to democratization. In the third section, I show the explanatory ability of the media on democratization, tested empirically against competing conventional explanations of democratization. To do so, I use the ordinary least squares method on time-series cross-sectional data of 200 countries measured annually from 1980-2004. The data and methods are described, as are the empirical findings and their theoretical implications.

Cover page of Political Expenditures and Power Laws: A Spatial Model of the Lobbying Process

Political Expenditures and Power Laws: A Spatial Model of the Lobbying Process

(2008)

I develop the theory of power laws and allude to their prevalence elsewhere in the scientific world. I use actual data on US special interest groups to identify a broad, empirical regularity in the distribution of their lobbying expenditures, which naturally gives rise to a spatial model of the lobbying process. I discuss the policy implications of these findings and stress the superiority of this approach in describing aggregate special interest behavior relative to the stylized, strategic workhorse models in this field. Supplemental mathematical background is provided in two appendices.

Cover page of How We Count Counts: The Empirical Effects of Using Coalitional Potential to Measure the Effective Number of Parties

How We Count Counts: The Empirical Effects of Using Coalitional Potential to Measure the Effective Number of Parties

(2008)

Despite its conceptual centrality to research in comparative politics and the fact that a single measure—the Laakso-Taagepera index (LT)—is nearly universally employed in empirical research, the question of what is the best way to “count” parties is still an open one. Among other alleged shortcomings, LT has been criticized for over-weighting small parties, especially in the case of a one-party majority. Using seat-shares data from over 300 elections, I have calculated LT as well as an alternative measure (BZ) which employs normalized Banzhaf scores rather than simple party seat shares, as weights. The Banzhaf index is a voting power index which calculates a party’s voting power as a function of its coalitional potential. Though the two measures are highly correlated, I identify three particular party constellations in which the differences between LT and BZ are systematic and statistically significant. In all of these cases, and especially in the case of a one-party majority, I argue that BZ is a more accurate representation of the actual party system, after any given election, while LT is perhaps better interpreted as a measure of the shape of the party system more generally. These findings have many implications, including with respect to the categorization of party systems and the empirical validity of Duverger’s Law.

Cover page of The Effects of Transition on Life Satisfaction in Poland

The Effects of Transition on Life Satisfaction in Poland

(2008)

Since 1989 Poland has been considered a leader in economic reform, but did the process of transition from a planned economy to a free market model make its people happier? A look at the life satisfaction levels reported in the World Values Survey shows that the answer is no. The disruptive effects of transition on marriage rates, as well as the increased unemployment and withdrawal from the labor force seem to have mattered more for the happiness of Poles than the recovery in terms of GDP per capita. People over thirty and those less educated are the ones who suffered the most and this led to an increase in life satisfaction inequality. Overall, there is not a significant difference in the levels of subjective well-being of women and men. However, while both genders report lower levels in 1999 compared with 1990, the difference between the two dates is only significant in the case of men. For them, only after considering the changes in marital and employment status the decrease in life satisfaction over this interval can be accounted for.

Cover page of Measuring the Presidential Risk Factor: A Comment on Cheibub’s Presidentialism, Parliamentarism, and Democracy

Measuring the Presidential Risk Factor: A Comment on Cheibub’s Presidentialism, Parliamentarism, and Democracy

(2008)

I argue that the vision of “self-enforcing” democratization found in, for example, Przeworski (1992) and Acemoglou and Robinson (2007)—wherein democracy represents an organic balance of power between society’s actors, arrived at through a potentially long process of political give and take—is relevant for understanding an important difference between the modal democracies born during and after the Cold War. Given the logic of the self-enforcing democratization literature, and the evidence of an increased incidence of “electoral authoritarianism” in the Cold War period, I demonstrate that we should expect a much smaller estimated impact of the presidential risk factor after the Cold War than during it, even if presidentialism’s effect on breakdown remains constant.