Migration policy, Media bias, Direct democracy (new papers)

Do Interest Groups Affect U.S. Immigration Policy?
Date: 2008-10-11
By: Prachi Mishra, Anna Maria Mayda, Giovanni Facchini
While anecdotal evidence suggests that interest groups play a key role in shaping immigration policy, there is no systematic empirical analysis of this issue. In this paper, we construct an industry-level dataset for the United States, by combining information on the number of temporary work visas with data on lobbying activity associated with immigration. We find robust evidence that both pro- and anti-immigration interest groups play a statistically significant and economically relevant role in shaping migration across sectors. Barriers to migration are lower in sectors in which business interest groups incur larger lobby expenditures and higher in sectors where labor unions are more important.
Media Bias and Influence: Evidence from Newspaper Endorsements
By: Brian G. Knight and Chun-Fang Chiang
This paper investigates the relationship between media bias and the influence of the media on voting in the context of newspaper endorsements. We first develop a simple econometric model in which voters choose candidates under uncertainty and rely on endorsements from better informed sources. Newspapers are potentially biased in favor of one of the candidates and voters thus rationally account for the credibility of any endorsements. Our primary empirical finding is that endorsements are influential in the sense that voters are more likely to support the recommended candidate after publication of the endorsement. The degree of this influence, however, depends upon the credibility of the endorsement. In this way, endorsements for the Democratic candidate from left-leaning newspapers are less influential than are endorsements from neutral or right-leaning newspapers, and likewise for endorsements for the Republican. These findings suggest that voters do rely on the media for information during campaigns but that the extent of this reliance depends upon the degree and direction of any bias.
Does Direct Democracy Reduce the Size of Government? New Evidence from Historical Data, 1890-2000
Date: 2008-10
By: Patricia Funk and Christina Gathmann
Using historical data for all Swiss cantons from 1890 to 2000, we estimate the causal effect of direct democracy on government spending. The main innovation in this paper is that we use fixed effects to control for unobserved heterogeneity and instrumental variables to address the potential endogeneity of institutions. We find that the budget referendum and lower costs to launch a voter initiative are effective tools in reducing canton level spending. However, we find no evidence that the budget referendum results in more decentralized government or a larger local government. Our instrumental variable estimates suggest that a mandatory budget referendum reduces the size of canton spending between 13 and 19 percent. A 1 percent lower signature requirement for the initiative reduces canton spending by up to 2 percent.
Keywords: Direct Democracy, Fiscal Policy, Switzerland