Political Economy Research Institute
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The mission of the Political Economy Research Institute is to engage undergraduate and graduate students with faculty in research that will further the understanding of business and economic principles and their impact on regional, national, and international financial conditions and the well-being of society. Our working and policy paper series collect and promote the research being done by scholars and students affiliated with the Political Economy Research Institute
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ItemCommittee Election and Rotation(SSRN Working Paper, 2018-08-29) Smith, Daniel J.Can committee election and rotation (CER) for public office supplement formal terms and term limits to achieve more frequent office rotation without incurring, to the same extent, the associated turnover costs of a term limit set to the equivalent length? This paper provides a theoretical description of CER where two or more individuals are elected to serve individual terms for the same public office, with the exclusive right to exercise the public office rotating amongst the committee members at intervals shorter than the term length. CER would be most likely to emerge among a factional electorate, as CER would enable shorter rotations in office to be achieved without lower turnover costs. A case study of three high-level public offices using CER in the Republic of Venice, controlled by factional patricians, provides evidence of the historical structure and operation of CER. The tripartite presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina is examined as a modern day application of CER among a factional electorate.
ItemDRAFTING THE GREAT ARMY: Optimal conscription in Napoleonic France(SSRN Working Paper, 2020-02) Piano, Ennio E. ; Rouanet, LouisThe ability to mobilize large armies for the purposes of national defense and territorial expansion is a key feature of the modern state. Post-revolutionary France was among the first European powers to adopt large-scale conscription to man its army. For its conscription efforts to be effective, the French government had to overcome the obstacle posed by desertion. This article develops a framework to study the optimal response to the threat of desertion in designing conscription policies. We argue that geography was a major determinant of the administrative costs of enforcing conscription. Using a novel data-set on conscription and desertion from Napoleonic France, we show that regions with higher terrain ruggedness were more prone to desertion. We also show that, in response to the variation in enforcement costs across regions, the national government adjusted its conscription policies accordingly: More Frenchmen were drafted in regions where the administrative costs of conscription were lower.
ItemGovernment Audit Quality and Efforts to Improve Internal Controls: A Case Study in Tennessee( 2020-05-18) Nipper, Ashley B ; Waymire, Tammy RWith national government audit quality concerns mounting, we utilized data from the Federal Audit Clearinghouse (FAC) to evaluate the variation in local government audit findings in Tennessee compared to other states. The combination of a centralized state audit agency which conducts some local government audits directly and monitors others and the implementation of legislation requiring internal controls result in more rigorous audits and stronger internal control systems in Tennessee local governments, providing a model that should be considered by other states.
ItemLong Live the King? Death as a Term Limit on Executives(SSRN Working Paper, 2018-08-29) Smith, Daniel J. ; Crowley, George R. ; Lequizamon, J. SebastianCan informal term limits place binding constraints on executives? And, are there conditions under which an electorate would forego formal term limits in favor of informal term limits? Formal term limits face three primary problems: they can be dispensed by powerful executives, they limit electorate discretion on term length, and they artificially shorten an executive’s time horizon. This paper extends the literature on term limits by building a model of informal term limits which overcomes these deficiencies. Our model demonstrates that an electorate could use the death of a lifetime-appointed executive, based on their projected life expectancy, to enforce binding, informal term limits. Informal term limits would enable the electorate to exercise discretion in adjusting tenure lengths when considering the tradeoff between the expected benefits of regime stability, such as experience, and the expected costs of long tenures, including the possibility of tyranny. In addition, this informal term limit would be congruent with an executive’s natural time horizon. Informal term limits would be most advantageous to an electorate fearful of both internal (tyranny) and external (military conquest) threats. A historical case study of ducal elections in late Middle Age and Renaissance Venice provides evidence of an electorate in this circumstance, the patricians of Venice, imposing informal term limits on their executives utilizing the projected life expectancy of ducal candidates at election.
ItemPopulism is More than Hysteria: A Selective Review of the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election(SSRN Working Paper, 2020-08-01) Watts, CalebImmigration and foreign efficiency have increased domestic labor market competition and displaced native workers. Populist rhetoric identifies immigrants, outsourcing, and trade deficits as the causes for voter’s socioeconomic anxieties. This populist rationale gained political traction in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The support from voters for a populist candidate, who would win the election, has a tendency to place a hysteria label upon these voters. Critics of populism have charged these voters with acting irrationally given the long-term, beneficial impacts of globalization for workers in the U.S. This study questions these charges by developing a spatially weighted regression to predict, at the county level, the proportion of populist votes in the 2016 U.S. general election. The results suggest that voters in support of the populist candidate viewed protectionism as a reasonable solution to their immediate economic needs and concerns. Such a conclusion lifts the hysteria label and replaces it with sympathetic views for populist voters in 2016.
ItemTennessee Public Pensions: A Model for Pension Reform( 2020-08-01) Savidge, ThomasTennessee’s public pension system recent reforms passed in 2014 have helped make Tennessee one of the best public pension systems in the United States. This paper will first examine the reforms made by Tennessee. The sections that follow will examine how Tennessee’s public pension plans have fared compared to other states that have made reforms (i.e. Michigan and Wisconsin) and states where no reforms to defined benefit pension plans have been made (i.e. Alabama, Connecticut, and Illinois) in terms of contribution rates, funding ratios, and liability valuations. The second part of this paper will make recommendations for future reform that will help keep Tennessee one of the most competitive public pension plans in the United States.