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Memory Lane

There’s a new paper by Gethin, Martínez-Toledano, and Piketty in the QJE that’s worth discussing, entitled “Brahmin Left versus Merchant right: Changing Political Cleavages in 21 Western Democracies, 1948-2020.” The paper uses a comprehensive electoral dataset to study class voting in 21 democracies, between 1948 and 2020 (and it’s worth noting that this paper is a … Continue reading Memory Lane

The Electoral Effects of Old-Age Assistance and the Social Security Act of 1935

Common wisdom dictates that it is easier for governments to provide new social programs than to pare back existing ones. This wisdom rests on decades of research showing that policies can create engaged voter-citizens from among their recipients, who will mobilize to protect new programs (Campbell 2003). There are two mechanisms by which social policies … Continue reading The Electoral Effects of Old-Age Assistance and the Social Security Act of 1935

Prohibition, Parties, and Representation

Prohibition represents one of the most politically charged, innovative, and ultimately failed policy experiments in the history of the United States. From 1920 to 1933, alcohol was banned by constitutional amendment and congressional action across the United States; in many states and localities, this state of affairs persisted for years before or after this period. … Continue reading Prohibition, Parties, and Representation

Explaining the Mixed Legacies of Colonial Legislative Institutions

A large literature examines the institutional legacies of European colonialism. A common claim in these works is that a variety of contemporary institutional, political, and economic outcomes in former European colonies can be attributed to whether occupying colonial powers established “extractive” or “inclusive” institutions.[1] The idea is that relative to their counterparts that had inclusive … Continue reading Explaining the Mixed Legacies of Colonial Legislative Institutions

A Longevity Mechanism of Chinese Absolutism

By Yasheng Huang and Clair Yang A distinguished body of literature emphasizes the importance of premodern political institutions in Europe—especially feudalism, representation, and parliaments—in paving the way for executive constraints on the crown,[1] which in turn led to enhanced political stability in Europe,[2] and eventually democracy [3] and modern economic growth.[4] A counterpart of this … Continue reading A Longevity Mechanism of Chinese Absolutism

The Direct Election of Senators and the Emergence of the Modern Presidency

The observation that presidents dominate US foreign policy is hardly novel. Around the world, executives generally have informational advantages in international affairs that translate into foreign policy autonomy (Baum and Potter 2015). Political institutions and practices make this doubly true in the United States. Indeed, presidential dominance in foreign policy is so widely accepted that … Continue reading The Direct Election of Senators and the Emergence of the Modern Presidency