Working papers

On war and political radicalization

On war and political radicalization

Vienna Economics Papers 1904, University of Vienna, Department of Economics

Abstract. This paper illustrates how a historical shock to political preferences can translate into observable electoral support as the political landscape evolves. During World War II, the Third Reich annexed the French eastern borderlands and their inhabitants were forcibly conscripted into the Wehrmacht. In the first stage, survey data is used to show how this forced conscription reduced political trust. Municipality-level data and political discourse data are then combined to estimate the impact of conscription on support for radical candidates and on abstention in elections during the 1965-2017 period. Identification exploits the fact that different birth cohorts were affected in each annexed region by using eligible births as an instrument for conscription. In earlier elections in which platforms were more similar, both radical and moderate candidates were penalized in municipalities where more men were conscripted, resulting in higher abstention. In more recent elections, which were more polarized, conscription increased support for radical candidates.

Keywords. War, political trust, polarization, radicalization

JEL classificationD72, N44, F51, Z13

The logic of fear - Populism and media coverage of immigrant crimes

The logic of fear - Populism and media coverage of immigrant crimes

with Mathieu Couttenier (ENS Lyon and CEPR), Sophie Hatte (ENS Lyon), and Mathias Thoenig (University of Lausanne and CEPR)
CEPR Discussion Papers 13496, CEPR Discussion Paper

AbstractWe study how news coverage of immigrant criminality impacted municipality-level votes in the November 2009 “minaret ban” referendum in Switzerland. The campaign, successfully led by the populist Swiss People’s Party, played aggressively on fears of Muslim immigration and linked Islam with terrorism and violence. We combine an exhaustive violent crime detection dataset with detailed information on crime coverage from 12 newspapers. This data allows us to quantify the extent of pre-vote media bias in the coverage of migrant criminality. We then estimate a theory-based voting equation in the cross-section of municipalities. Exploiting random variations in crime occurrences, we find a first-order, positive effect of news coverage on political support for the minaret ban. Counterfactual simulations show that, under a law forbidding newspapers to disclose a perpetrator’s nationality, the vote in favor of the ban would have decreased by 5 percentage points (from 57.6% to 52.6%).

Keywords. War, political trust, polarization, radicalization

JEL classification. D72, L82, Z12, K42

Evaluating the effectiveness of campaign speeches:
Evidence from the first national speaking tour

Evaluating the effectiveness of campaign speeches: Evidence from the first national speaking tour

with Johannes C. Buggle (University of Lausanne)
Working Paper 20.05, University of Lausanne, Department of Economics

Abstract. This paper examines the effect of campaign visits in the context of the unique one-sided nationwide speaking tour by a US Presidential candidate. During the 1896 election, the Democratic candidate went on a whistle stop train tour, while the Republican followed a front-porch campaign. To identify the causal effect of campaign speeches, we exploit several estimation strategies, including a within-county difference-in-differences design and a neighbor-pair fixed effect estimator. We find that one speech given by the Democratic candidate increased his vote share by about one percentage point on average. This increase stems from the persuasion of previously non-aligned industrial workers.

Keywords. Elections, campaign strategies, persuasive communication

JEL classification. D72, N41, N71, P48

Work in progress

The long-run consequences of extractive institutions:
Economic Aryanization

The long-run consequences of extractive institutions:
Economic Aryanization

With Julien Senn (University of Zurich)

Abstract. This paper investigates the channels through which extractive institutions affect development. We test the hypothesis that extractive institutions reduce competition, which in turn reduces the incentives of firms to innovate, and eventually slows down growth (Acemoglu and Robinson, 2012). During the German occupation of France in WWII, the policy of «Economic Aryanazation» was introduced. The purpose of this policy was to exclude the Jewish population from any economic activity. Variation in this set-up comes from the «Demarcation line», the line separating France into the Occupied (North-West), and «Free» (SE) zones for 2.5 years. The initial drawing of this line was so imprecise, that the authorities of the «Free» zone had to wait several months before learning where the border was fixed (Alary, 2003).