Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM
- Chair: Cesar Martinelli, George Mason University
Taxing Unwanted Populations: Fiscal Policy and Conversions in Early Islam
AbstractHostility towards a population, whether on religious, ethnic, cultural or socioeconomic grounds, confronts rulers with a trade-off between taking advantage of population members' eagerness to keep their status and inducing them to "comply" (conversion, quit, exodus or any other way of pleasing the hostile rulers). This paper first analyzes the rulers' optimal mix of discriminatory and non-discriminatory taxation, both in a static and an evolving environment. It thereby derives a set of unconventional predictions. The paper then tests the theory in the context of Egypt's conversion to Islam after 641 using novel data sources. The evidence is broadly consistent with the theoretical predictions.
AbstractThis paper explores the origins of policy complexity. It studies a model where policy is difficult to undo because policy elements are entangled with each other. Policy complexity may accumulate as successive policymakers layer new rules upon existing policy. Complexity emerges and persists in balanced democratic polities, when policymakers are ideologically extreme, and when legislative frictions impede policymaking. Complexity begets complexity: simple policies remain simple, whereas complex policies grow more complex. Patience is not always a virtue: farsighted policymakers may engage in obstructionism, deliberately introducing complex policies to hinder future opponents.
Ethical Voting in Multicandidate Elections
AbstractWe study the behavior of ethical voters in multicandidate elections. We consider
two of the most-widely used electoral rules around the world: the plurality rule and
the majority runoff rule. Our results confirm the promises of the ethical voter model:
the predictions are empirically sound and much crisper than those of the pivotal voter
model. There are two types of equilibria: (i) the sincere voting equilibrium (in which
voters vote for their most-preferred candidate), and (ii) Duverger's law equilibria
(in which all majority voters vote for the same majority candidate). We prove that
an equilibrium always exists, and that it is unique for a broad range of parameter
values. Moreover, the sincere voting equilibrium never coexists with a Duverger's law
equilibrium. We can also identify the features of an election that favor sincere voting.
Quite intuitively, the incentives to vote sincerely are stronger when (i) the utility
differential between the two majority candidates is large, (ii) the utility differential
between the less preferred majority candidate and the minority candidate is small,
(iii) the minority group is small, and (iv) the majority is evenly divided. Comparing
plurality and majority runoff, we find that the incentives to vote sincerely are stronger
under the latter. This result is consistent with the findings of the empirical literature
studying the influence of the electoral system on the number of candidates.
- D7 - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making