Miscellaneous papers

On political economy:  1. Swedish social scientists are more right leaning than American ones.  2. Long lasting democracy impacts growth more than you think.   3. Now, under the right circumstances, killing your country leader produce institutional change and moves to democracy.   4. Finally, perceptions of corruption are a poor indicator of corruption actual incidence.  Read on!

The Political Opinions of Swedish Social Scientists
Berggren, Niclas (The Ratio Institute), Jordahl, Henrik (IFN), Stern, Charlotta (SOFI, Stockholm University)
URL:     http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:hhs:ratioi:0112&r=pol    
We study the political opinions of Swedish social scientists in seven disciplines. A survey was sent to 4,301 academics at 25 colleges and universities, which makes the coverage of the disciplines included more or less comprehensive. When it comes to party sympathies there are 1.3 academics on the right for each academic on the left—a sharp contrast to the situation in the United States, where Democrats greatly dominate the social sciences. The corresponding ratio for Swedish citizens in general is 1.1. The most left-leaning disciplines are sociology and gender studies, the most right-leaning ones are business administration, economics, and law, with political science and economic history somewhere in between. The differences between the disciplines are smaller in Sweden than in the more polarized U.S. We also asked 14 policy questions. The replies largely confirm the pattern of a left-right divide – but overal l the desire to change the status quo is tepid.   

The growth effect of democracy: Is it heterogenous and how can it be estimated?
Torsten Persson and Guido Tabellini
URL:     http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:igi:igierp:322&r=pol     
We estimate the effect of political regime transitions on growth with semi-parametric methods, combining difference in differences with matching, that have not been used in macroeconomic settings. Our semi-parametric estimates suggest that previous parametric estimates may have seriously underestimated the growth effects of democracy. In particular, we find an average negative effect on growth of leaving democracy on the order of -2 percentage points implying effects on income per capita as large as 45 percent over the 1960-2000 panel. Heterogenous characteristics of reforming and non-reforming countries appear to play an important role in driving these results. 

Hit or Miss? The Effect of Assassinations on Institutions and War
Benjamin F. Jones and Benjamin A. Olken
URL:     http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13102&r=pol   
Assassinations are a persistent feature of the political landscape. Using a new data set of assassination attempts on all world leaders from 1875 to 2004, we exploit inherent randomness in the success or failure of assassination attempts to identify assassination’s effects. We find that, on average, successful assassinations of autocrats produce sustained moves toward democracy. We also find that assassinations affect the intensity of small-scale conflicts. The results document a contemporary source of institutional change, inform theories of conflict, and show that small sources of randomness can have a pronounced effect on history. 

How Much Do Perceptions of Corruption Really Tell Us?
Weber Abramo, Claudio
Regressions and tests performed on data from Transparency International Global Corruption Barometer 2004 survey show that personal or household experience of bribery is not a good predictor of perceptions held about corruption among the general population. In contrast, perceptions about the effects of corruption correlate consistently among themselves. However, no consistent relationship between opinions about general effects and the assessments of the extent with which corruption affects the institutions where presumably corruption is materialized is found. Countries are sharply divided between those above and below the US$ 10,000 GDP per capita line in the relationships between variables concerning corruption. Among richer countries, opinions about institutions explain very well opinions concerning certain effects of corruption, while among poorer countries the explanatory power of institutions for the effects of corruption falls. Furthermore, tests for dependence applied between the variables in the sets of respondents for each of 60 countries also show that, for most of them, it is likely that experience does not explain perceptions. On the other hand, opinions tend to closely follow the trend of other opinions. Additionally, it is found that in the GCB opinions about general effects of corruption are strongly correlated with opinions about other issues, as much as to justify the hypothesis that it would suffice to measure the average opinion of the general public about human rights, violence etc. to accurately infer what would be the average opinion about least petty and grand corruption. The findings reported here challenge the value of perceptions of corruption as indications of the actual incidence of the phenomenon.