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Soon after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the French government decided to still hold the first round of the 2020 municipal elections as scheduled on March 15. What was the impact of these elections on the spread of COVID-19 in France? Answering this question leads to intricate econometric issues as omitted variables may drive both epidemiological dynamics and electoral turnout, and as a national lockdown was imposed at almost the same time as the elections. In order to disentangle the effect of the elections from that of confounding factors, we first predict each department’s epidemiological dynamics using information up to the election. We then take advantage of differences in electoral turnout across departments to identify the impact of the election on prediction errors in hospitalizations. We report a detrimental effect of the first round of the election on hospitalizations in locations that were already at relatively advanced stages of the epidemic. Estimates suggest that the elections accounted for at least 3,000 hospitalizations, or 11% of all hospitalizations by the end of March. Given the sizable health cost of holding elections during an epidemic, promoting ways of voting that reduce exposure to COVID-19 is key until the pandemic shows signs of abating.
This paper investigates whether political connections affect individuals’ propensity to engage in white-collar crime. We identify connections by campaign donations or direct friendships and use the 2007 French Presidential election as a marker of change in the value of political connections to the winning candidate. We compare the behavior of Directors of publicly listed companies who were connected to the future President to the behavior of other non-connected Directors, before and after the election. Consistent with the belief that connections to a powerful politician can protect someone from prosecution or punishment, we uncover indirect evidence that connected Directors are more likely to engage in suspicious insider trading after the election: Purchases by connected Directors trigger larger abnormal returns, connected Directors are less likely to comply with trading disclosure requirements in a timely fashion, and connected Directors trade closer in time to their firms’ announcements of results. (JEL: D72, G14, G18, G38, K22, K42)
We use a simple model of drivers' vigilance effort choice to show that drivers' propensity to follow traffic rules has two opposite effects on road safety. On the one hand, it lowers the frequency of dangerous situations. On the other hand, it also reduces drivers' vigilance effort as each driver anticipates that dangerous situations will be less frequent. These two opposite effects may lead to a non-monotonic relationship between compliance with road rules and the incidence of road traffic accidents. We present cross-country estimates that support the existence of a bell-shaped relationship between norms of compliance with rules and traffic fatalities.
This note evaluates the scrambled questions penalty using multiple choice tests taken by first-year undergraduate students who follow a microeconomics introductory course. We provide new evidence that students perform worse at scrambled questionnaires than at logically ordered ones. We improve on previous studies by explicitly modeling students individual skills thanks to a fixed effects regression. We further show that the scrambled questions penalty does not differ along gender but varies along the distribution of students' skills and mostly affects students with lower-intermediate skills.
We document interpersonal violence as a dimension of the resource curse. We rely on a historical natural experiment in the United States, where mineral discoveries occurred sometimes before, sometimes after formal institutions were established in the county of discovery. In places where mineral discoveries occurred before formal institutions were established, there were more homicides per capita historically and the effect has persisted to this day. Today, the share of homicides and assaults explained by the historical circumstances of mineral discoveries is comparable to the effect of education or income. Our results imply that short-term and quasi-exogenous variations in the institutional environment can lead to large and persistent differences in cultural and institutional development.
This paper provides empirical evidence that, after protests, citizens substantially revise their views on the current leader, but also their trust in the country's institutions. The empirical strategy exploits variation in the timing of an individual level survey and the proximity to social protests in 13 African countries. First, we find that trust in political leaders strongly and abruptly decreases after protests. Second, trust in the country monitoring institutions plunges as well. Both effects are much stronger when protests are repressed by the government. As no signs of distrust are recorded even a couple of days before the social conflicts, protests can be interpreted as sudden signals sent on a leaders' actions from which citizens extract information on their country fundamentals.
Using 50,000 tests published in the AER, JPE, and QJE, we identify a residual in the distribution of tests that cannot be explained solely by journals favoring rejection of the null hypothesis. We observe a two-humped camel shape with missing p-values between 0.25 and 0.10 that can be retrieved just after the 0.05 threshold and represent 10-20 percent of marginally rejected tests. Our interpretation is that researchers inflate the value of just-rejected tests by choosing "significant" specifications. We propose a method to measure this residual and describe how it varies by article and author characteristics. (JEL A11, C13)
We show the existence of a twin peaks relation between trust and the size of the welfare state that stems from two opposing forces. Uncivic people support large welfare states because they expect to benefit from them without bearing their costs. But civic individuals support generous benefits and high taxes only when they are surrounded by trustworthy individuals. We provide empirical evidence for these behaviors and this twin peaks relation in the OECD countries.
This paper provides empirical evidence that mineral resources abundance is associated to preferences for redistribution in the United States. We show that individuals living in states with large mineral resources endowment are more opposed to redistribution than others. We take advantage of both the spatial and the temporal distributions of mineral resources discoveries since 1800 to uncover two mechanisms through which mineral resources can foster ones’ opposition to redistribution: either by transmission of values formed in the past, or by the exposure to mineral discoveries during individuals’ life-time. We show that both mechanisms matter to explain respondents’ preferences.
This paper simultaneously estimates the impact of political majorities on the values of firms that would benefit from the platforms of the two main candidates at the 2007 French presidential election, Ségolène Royal and Nicolas Sarkozy, and of those that are ruled or owned by Sarkozy's friends. We use prediction-market data to track each candidate's victory probability, and investigate how this relates to firms' abnormal returns. Our estimates suggest that the value of firms that would likely benefit from the platforms of Royal and Sarkozy changed by 1% and 2%, respectively, with the candidates' victory probabilities, and that firms connected to Sarkozy out-performed others by 3% due to his election.