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  • 1. Hyytinen, Ari
    et al.
    Meriläinen, Jaakko
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute for International Economic Studies.
    Saarimaa, Tuukka
    Toivanen, Otto
    Tukiainen, Janne
    Public Employees as Politicians: Evidence from Close Elections2018In: American Political Science Review, ISSN 0003-0554, E-ISSN 1537-5943, Vol. 112, no 1, p. 68-81Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    We analyze the effect of municipal employees' political representation in municipal councils on local public spending. We use within-party, as-good-as-random variation in close elections in the Finnish open-list proportional election system to quantify the effect. One more councilor employed by the public sector increases spending by about 1%. The effect comes largely through the largest party and is specific to the employment sector of the municipal employee. The results are consistent with public employees having an information advantage over other politicians, and thus, being able to influence policy.

  • 2. Hyytinen, Ari
    et al.
    Meriläinen, Jaakko
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute for International Economic Studies.
    Saarimaa, Tuukka
    Toivanen, Otto
    Tukiainen, Janne
    When does regression discontinuity design work? Evidence from random election outcomes2018In: Quantitative Economics, ISSN 1759-7323, E-ISSN 1759-7331, Vol. 9, no 2, p. 1019-1051Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    We use elections data in which a large number of ties in vote counts between candidates are resolved via a lottery to study the personal incumbency advantage. We benchmark non-experimental regression discontinuity design (RDD) estimates against the estimate produced by this experiment that takes place exactly at the cutoff. The experimental estimate suggests that there is no personal incumbency advantage. In contrast, conventional local polynomial RDD estimates suggest a moderate and statistically significant effect. Bias-corrected RDD estimates that apply robust inference are, however, in line with the experimental estimate. Therefore, state-of-the-art implementation of RDD can meet the replication standard in the context of close elections.

  • 3.
    Meriläinen, Jaakko
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Economics.
    Essays in Political Economics2019Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    When Does Regression Discontinuity Design Work? Evidence from Random Election Outcomes

    We use elections data in which a large number of ties in vote counts between candidates are resolved via a lottery to study the personal incumbency advantage. We benchmark non-experimental regression discontinuity design (RDD) estimates against the estimate produced by this experiment that suggests that there is no personal incumbency advantage. In contrast, conventional local polynomial RDD estimates suggest a moderate and statistically significant effect. Bias-corrected RDD estimates that apply robust inference are, however, in line with the experimental estimate.

    Rank Effects in Political Promotions

    We study the effect of candidates’ personal vote ranks on promotions to political power in an open-list proportional representation system. Using a regression discontinuity design and data from Finnish local elections, we find that ranking first within a party enhances a politician’s chances of getting promoted to the position of municipal board chair. Our evidence suggests that the mechanism behind the rank effects is primarily unrelated to electoral incentives, but is rather related to party-specific norms or political culture.

    Victorian Voting: The Origins of Party Orientation and Class Alignment

    Using individual elector level panel data from nineteenth-century United Kingdom poll books, we reassess the development of a party-centered electorate. We show that (i) the electorate was party-centered by the time of the extension of the franchise in 1867; (ii) a decline in candidate-centered voting is largely attributable to changes in the behavior of the working class; and (iii) the enfranchised working class aligned with the Liberal left. Our findings can plausibly explain the subsequent development of the party system.

    Class, Social Mobility, and Voting: Evidence from Historical Voting Records

    We examine the mechanisms of class-based voting by evaluating the effects of social mobility on voting behavior in the nineteenth-century England. While we do not find any strong evidence of a cleavage along the working and middle class divide, we find that he landed gentry, farm workers, non-skilled workers and white-collar workers voted on average more for the Conservatives, and petty bourgeoisie and skilled workers for the Liberals. The changes in voting behavior due to social mobility are immediate and mainly consistent with the same cleavage.

    Public Employees as Politicians: Evidence from Close Elections

    We analyze the effect of municipal employees’ political representation in municipal councils on local public spending. One more councilor employed by the public sector increases spending by about 1%. The effect largely comes through the largest party and is specific to the employment sector of the municipal employee.

    Politician Quality, Ideology, and Fiscal Policy

    Using local councils in Finland as a test bed, I show that (i) electing more high-income, incumbent, and competent politicians improves fiscal sustainability outcomes but does not decrease the size of the public sector, and (ii) symmetrically, electing more university-educated local councilors leads to an increase in public spending without any adverse effects on fiscal sustainability. Survey data reveal that the qualities are differentially associated with economic ideology, and these correlations tally with the policy effects.

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  • 4.
    Meriläinen, Jaakko
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute for International Economic Studies.
    Single-Party Rule, Public Spending, and Political Rents: Evidence from Finnish Municipalities2019In: Scandinavian Journal of Economics, ISSN 0347-0520, E-ISSN 1467-9442, Vol. 121, no 2, p. 736-762Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In this paper, I investigate the differences in public spending and extraction of political rents between single-party and coalition governments. Common pool theories predict that coalitions tend to spend more and extract more rents than single-party governments. Using data from Finnish municipalities for the years 1997-2012 and a regression discontinuity design approach tailored for proportional elections, I provide causal evidence consistent with the theoretical predictions.

  • 5.
    Meriläinen, Jaakko
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute for International Economic Studies.
    Tukiainen, Janne
    Public Procurement versus Laissez-Faire: Evidence from Household Waste Collection2019In: CESifo Economic Studies, ISSN 1610-241X, E-ISSN 1612-7501, Vol. 65, no 4, p. 446-463Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    We document that switching from laissez-faire production to public procurement in residential waste collection in Finland reduces the number of firms active in the local market, but induces a statistically significant and large decrease in unit prices on average. While public procurement, thus, seems to be desirable from the citizens' perspective, not all municipalities adopt public procurement. We provide descriptive evidence that municipal council composition is associated with the chosen regime. This suggests that local politics may be one obstacle for the efficient provision of local public goods.

  • 6.
    Meriläinen, Jaakko
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute for International Economic Studies.
    Tukiainen, Janne
    Rank effects in political promotions2018In: Public Choice, ISSN 0048-5829, E-ISSN 1573-7101, Vol. 177, no 1-2, p. 87-109Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper studies the effect of candidates' personal vote ranks on promotions to political power in an open list proportional representation system. Using a regression discontinuity design and data from Finnish local elections, we find that ranking first within a party enhances a politician's chances of getting promoted to the position of a municipal board chair, the most important task in Finnish local politics. Other ranks matter less. We document that the effect of ranking first is larger when there is less within-party competition, but the role of external competition is ambiguous. Our evidence suggests that the mechanism behind the rank effects is primarily unrelated to electoral incentives but rather to party-specific norms or political culture. Ranks seem to be, however, only a complement to other promotion criteria such as politicians' previous political experience or how close to the party lines their policy positions stand.

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