Political Economics of Special Interests and Gender
Abstract: Political Finance Reform and Public Procurement: Evidence from Lithuania. Can political donations buy influence? This paper studies whether firms trade political contributions for public procurement contracts. To answer this question, I focus on the Lithuanian political economy. Combining data on a large number of government tenders, the universe of corporate donors and firm characteristics, I examine how a ban on corporate donations affects the awarding of procurement contracts to companies that donated in the past. Consistent with political favoritism, contributing firms’ probability of winning goes down by five percentage points as compared to that of non-donor firms after the ban. Among different mechanisms, the hypothesis that corporate donors get confidential information on competing bids prevails. The empirical results are in line with predictions from a first-price sealed-bid auction model with one informed bidder. Evidence on firm bidding and victory margins suggests that contributing firms adjust their bids in order to secure contracts at a maximum revenue. I assess that tax payers save almost one percent of GDP thanks to the reform.Gender Quotas and the Quality of Politicians. We analyze the effects of the introduction of gender quotas in candidate lists on the quality of elected politicians, as measured by the average number of years of education. We consider an Italian law which introduced gender quotas in local elections in 1993, and was abolished in 1995. As not all municipalities went through elections during this period, we identify two groups of municipalities and use a difference-in-differences estimation. We find that gender quotas are associated with an increase in the quality of elected politicians, with the effect ranging from 0.12 to 0.24 years of education. This effect is due not only to the higher number of elected women, who are on average more educated than men, but also to the lower number of low-educated elected men. The positive effect on quality is confirmed when we measure the latter with alternative indicators, it persists in the long run and it is robust to controlling for political ideology and political competition.Affirmative Action and the Power of the Elderly. There is evidence that age matters in politics. In this article we study whether implementation of affirmative action policies on gender can generate additional effects on an alternative dimension of representation, namely, the age of politicians. We consider an Italian law which introduced gender quotas in candidate lists for local elections in 1993, and was abolished in 1995. As not all municipalities went through elections during this period, we can identify two groups of municipalities and use a difference-in-differences estimation to analyze the effect of gender quotas on the age of elected politicians. We find that gender quotas are associated with election of politicians that are younger by more than one year. The effect occurs mainly due to the reduction in age of elected male politicians and is consistent with the optimizing behavior of parties or of voters.Let the Voters Choose Women. Female under-representation in politics can be the result of parties' selection of candidates and/or of voters’ electoral preferences. To assess the impact of these two channels, we exploit the introduction of Italian Law 215/2013, which prescribes both gender quotas on candidate lists and double preference voting conditioned on gender. Using a regression discontinuity design, we estimate that the law increases the share of elected female politicians by 22 percentage points. The result is driven by the increase in preference votes cast for female candidates, suggesting a salient role of double preference voting in promoting female empowerment in politics.
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