Is the political support for welfare policy higher or lower in less egalitarian societies? We answer the question using a model of welfare policy as publicly financed insurance that pays benefits in a redistributive manner. When voters have both redistributive and insurance motives for supporting welfare spending, the effect of inequality depends on how benefits are targeted. Greater inequality increases support for welfare expenditures when benefits are targeted to the employed but decreases support when benefits are targeted to those without earnings. With endogenous targeting, support for benefits to those without earnings declines as inequality increases, whereas support for aggregate spending is a V–shaped function of inequality. Statistical analysis of welfare expenditures in advanced industrial societies provides support for key empirical implications of the model.
My primary focus is on the mechanisms that drive regulatory harmonization in international finance. Just as we would like to know whether firms have arrived at similar prices for a good through collusion or competition, we want to know whether harmonization occurs through political or market pressures. My argument also informs a discussion about whether international institutions will play a role in the process of harmonization, and if so, what that role will be. In short, the dependent variable of this study is primarily harmonization processes. By focusing on process mechanisms, I provide a theoretical and practical explanation of the relative roles of market incentives, political pressure, and multilateral institutions in the coordination of regulatory policies.
Markets are so routinely regarded as fundamentally economic institutions that long–standing and quite varied anthropological perspectives on them are often overlooked. Anthropological attention focuses on patterns of individual and small–group exchange relationships within specific markets, on institutional structures that organize markets, and on the social, political, and spatial hierarchies through which markets link social classes, ethnic groups, or regional societies into larger systems. Anthropological studies of markets analyze them as nodes of complex social processes and generators of cultural activity as well as realms for economic exchange. Anthropologists' interests in markets, therefore, are partially distinct from – although certainly overlapping with – the concerns of economists.
The concept of legitimacy has fascinated me for many years. Again and again, particularly over the course of the 1960s, I felt that the concepts of legitimacy and illegitimacy provided the organizing principles that helped explain various phenomena with which I was concerned.
This paper considers policies of the industrialized countries, as they pertain to crises in emerging markets. These fall into three areas: (1) their own macroeconomic policies, which determine the global financial environment; (2) their role in responding to crises when they occur, particularly through rescue packages, which have three components —reforms in debtor countries, public funds from creditor countries, and private sector involvement; and (3) efforts to reform the international financial architecture, with the aim of lessening the frequency and severity of future crises. A recurrent theme is the tension between mitigating crises that occur, and the moral hazard that such efforts create in the longer term. In addition to reviewing these three areas of policy, we consider the institutions through which the more powerful countries exercise their influence. We conclude with a discussion of the debate over the sins of the International Monetary Fund, and proposals for reform.
"The most important political distinction among countries concerns not their form of government but their degree of government. The differences between democracy and dictatorship are less than the differences between those countries whose politics embodies consensus, community, legitimacy, organization, effectiveness, stability, and those countries whose politics is deficient in these qualities." So begins Samuel P. Huntington's 'Political Order in Changing Societies,' one of the most widely influential and insightful books on comparative politics ever written. Its concern is normative as well as analytic. In a retrospective comment on his own writing, Huntington has noted, "I wrote [Political Order] because I thought political order was a good thing." Moreover, he added, his "purpose was to develop a general social science theory of why, how, and under what circumstances order could and could not be achieved."
Many of the theoretical controversies in the sociology of religion have pertained to trends and patterns of religious mobility . Recently, scholars have claimed that diminishing status differences between denominations have opened denominational boundaries and led to higher rates of religious mobility. Scholars working from rational actor perspectives have generated several hypotheses. First, human capital and adaptive preference theories suggest that switching will remain infrequent, and will tend to occur between similar denominations. Second, "Strict church" perspectives argue that demanding sectarian denominations will have higher retention, and be more attractive destinations. Third, market niche perspectives argue that niche overlap will foster high rates of religious mobility. Finally, theories emphasizing normative constraints on religious choices suggest that quasi–ethnic religious groups will have a greater hold on members. In this article, Darren Sherkat examines trends and patterns of religious mobility in the U.S. between 1973 and 1998 using data from the General Social Surveys. Retention rates, distributions of original and destination affiliations, and mobility tables are compared across three periods, and four broad cohorts using log–multiplicative association models. Sherkat finds some support for hypotheses generated by status theories, and for several propositions from rational actor theories; however, the decline of denominationalism perspective is unsupported.
The UK political system has long exemplified ?majoritarian? or ?Westminster? government, a type subsequently exported to many Commonwealth countries. The primary advantage of this system, proponents since Bagehot have argued, lie in its ability to combine accountability with effective governance. Yet under the Blair administration, this system has undergone a series of major constitutional reforms, perhaps producing the twilight of the pure Westminster model. After conceptualizing the process of constitutional reform, this paper discusses two important claims made by those who favor retaining the current electoral system for Westminster, namely that single–member districts promote strong voter–member linkages and generate greater satisfaction with the political system. Evidence testing these claims is examined from comparative data covering 19 nations, drawing on the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems. The study finds that member–voter linkages are stronger in single member than in pure multimember districts, but that combined districts such as MMP preserve these virtues. Concerning claims of greater public satisfaction under majoritarian systems, the study establishes some support for this contention, although the evidence remains limited. The conclusion considers the implications of the findings for debates about electoral reform and for the future of the Westminster political system.
European countries are much more generous to the poor relative to the US level of generosity. Economic models suggest that redistribution is a function of the variance and skewness of the pre–tax income distribution, the volatility of income (perhaps because of trade shocks), the social costs of taxation and the expected income mobility of the median voter. None of these factors appear to explain the differences between the US and Europe. Instead, the differences appear to be the result of racial heterogeneity in the US and American political institutions. Racial animosity in the US makes redistribution to the poor, who are disproportionately black, unappealing to many voters. American political institutions limited the growth of a socialist party, and more generally limited the political power of the poor.
Regimes controlled by a rich elite often collapse and make way for democracy amidst widespread social unrest. Such regime changes are often followed by redistribution to the poor at the expense of the former elite. We argue that the reason why the elite may have to resort to full–scale democratization, despite its apparent costs to themselves, may be that lesser concessions would be viewed as a sign of weakness and spur further unrest and more radical demands. The elite may therefore be forced to choose between repression and the most generous concession, a transition to full democracy.
We build a model of child labor and study its implications for welfare. We assume that there is at trade–off between child labor and the accumulation of human capital. Even if parents are altruistic and child labor is socially inefficient, it may arise in equilibrium because parents fail to fully internalize its negative effects. This occurs when bequests are zero or when capital markets are imperfect. We also study the effects of a simple ban on child labor and derive conditions under which it may be Pareto improving in general equilibrium. We show that the implications of child labor for fertility are ambiguous.
We exploit differences in European mortality rates to estimate the effect of institutions on economic performance. Europeans adopted very different colonization policies in different colonies, with different associated institutions. In places where Europeans faced high mortality rates, they could not settle and were more likely to set up extractive institutions. These institutions persisted to the present. Exploiting differences in European mortality rates as an instrument for current institutions, we estimate large effects of institutions on income per capital. Once the effect of institutions is controlled, for countries in Africa or those closer to the equator do not have lower incomes.
Per capita income in many sub–Saharan African countries, such as Chad and Niger, is less than 1/30th of that of the United States. Most economists and social scientists suspect that this is in part due to institutional failures that stop these societies from adopting the best technologies. A particularly interesting historical example comes from the diffusion of railways in the 19th century. While railways are regarded as a key technology driving the Industrial Revolution, there were large lags in their diffusion. For example, in 1850 the United States had 14,518 km of track, Britain 9,797 km, and Germany 5,856 km; in the Russian and Hapsburg empires there were just 501 km and 1,357 km, respectively (all date from Brian R. Mitchell ). Why do societies, as in this example, fail to adopt the best available technologies?
We study the implications of the trade–off between child quality and child quantity for the efficiency of the rate of population growth. We show that if quantity and quality are inversely related then, even in the case of full altruism within the family, population growth is inefficiently high, if the family does not have, or does not choose to use, compensating instruments (for example, bequests or savings are at a corner). In non–altruistic models this trade–off certainly generates a population problem. We therefore prove that the repugnant conclusion is not only repugnant, it may be inefficient. Moreover, we cannot expect intra–family contracting to resolve the inefficiency since it involves contracts which are not credible.
The most convincing theory of comparative economic development asserts that it is institutions – the way societies are organized – that are the fundamental cause of countries? development of underdevelopment. To attain prosperity, a country needs to accumulate physical and human capital and create and adopt technology. Whether or not it does so is determined by the incentives that stem from the institutional environment.
During the nineteenth century most Western societies extended voting rights, a decision that led to unprecedented redistributive programs. We argue that these political reforms can be viewed as strategic decisions by the political elite to prevent widespread social unrest and revolution. Political transition, rather than redistribution under existing political institutions, occurs because current transfers do not ensure future transfers, while the extension of the franchise changes future political equilibria and acts as a commitment to redistribution. Our theory also offers a novel explanation for the Kuznets curve in many Western economies during this period, with the fall in inequality following redistribution due to democratization.
Nixon was not the only one who went to China; Ronald McDonald is there now, too. McDonald's triumphed — in a cultural zone where many adults think fried beef patties taste bizarre — by catering to China's pampered only children, the so–called little emperors and empresses. The "Golden Arches" have become part of the landscape of Beijing and Hong Kong. But is McDonald's trampling local culture in the name of a bland, homogeneous world order? Not really. Global capitalism pushes one way, and local consumers push right back. Herewith, a parable of globalization.
Published in Foreign Affairs 79, no. 3 (May/June 2000).
A 500–pound tuna is caught off the coast of New England or Spain, flown thousands of miles to Tokyo, sold for tens of thousands of dollars to Japanese buyers…and shipped to chefs in New York and Hong Kong? That's the manic logic of global sushi.
On March 23, 1983, President Ronald Reagan shocked the national security establishment by calling upon the nation's scientific community, "who gave us nuclear weapons, to turn their great talents to the cause of mankind and world peace: to give us the means of rendering these weapons impotent and obsolete." Seventeen years have passed since that speech, and the United States has spent more than $60 billion trying to develop a defense against ballistic missiles. The Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI, or "Star Wars") and its successors have cost more than twice as much as the Manhattan Project (in constant dollars), but these programs have yet to produce a single workable weapon. This "achievement" is probably a record in the annals of defense procurement: never has so much been spent for so long with so little to show for it. Explaining how this happened—and why—is the main aim of Frances Fitzgerald's Way Out There in the Blue: Reagan, Star Wars, and the End of the Cold War. The "Star Wars" saga, according to Fitzgerald, is the story of how the United States came to chase a chimera. For Fitzgerald, "Star Wars" illustrates "the extent to which our national discourse about foreign and defense policy is not about reality—or the best intelligence estimates about it—but instead a matter of domestic politics, history, and mythology."
As with any president, it is easy to think up ways that Clinton's record might be improved. But on the whole, he does not deserve the chorus of criticism he has received. Clinton's critics fail to appreciate how changes in the international position of the United States have complicated the making of its foreign policy. The next president will fact similar pressures.