Home / Politics / Policy /  In low-trust societies, an economic downturn can be costly for politicians

Countries with low levels of trust are much more likely to vote out incumbents when faced with an economic downturn compared to high-trust societies, according to a recently published National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) working paper by Nathan Nunn, a professor of economics at Harvard University, and co-authors. For example, between 2001 and 2014, Italy and Sweden both had low average growth rates of about 0.01%. While Italy, which had lower levels of trust, recorded a political turnover rate of 43%, Sweden, with high levels of trust, recorded turnover levels of just 14%. These are not isolated examples, the authors show in their study of voting patterns of democratic countries between 1950 and 2014. The authors also found that countries with higher levels of trust tended to recover faster from economic recessions. The findings shed new light on the importance of culture on political outcomes.

Also Read: Distrust and Political Turnover

Women’s lower productivity in academic publishing can be explained by the higher standards expected from them, according to research by Erin Hengel, a lecturer in economics at the University of Liverpool. The author applied a readability score to all English articles published in some of the top economics journals between 1950 and 2015: the American Economic Review, Econometrica, Journal of Political Economy, and Quarterly Journal of Economics. She found that papers authored by women were 1-6% better written than those authored by men, with the gap being higher in earlier draft versions of the same paper. This gap also increases over a career span as women’s writing continues to improve with respect to men. As a result, a conservative estimate from the data suggests that senior female economists write at least 9% more clearly. The peer-review process is also six months longer for female-authored papers.

Also Read: Publishing while female: Are women held to higher standards? Evidence from peer review

Last year, the American economist and Nobel laureate Angus Deaton put forward a provocative hypothesis regarding the rise in mortality rates among white American males: that it was being caused by economic distress. However, Deaton’s argument could not fully explain why the ‘deaths of despair’ were concentrated only among whites. A new NBER working paper by Christopher J. Ruhm, professor of public policy and economics at the University of Virginia, offers an explanation. Ruhm analyses disaggregated mortality data to show that the uptick in mortality is most likely caused by the availability and cost of drugs. Whites have been affected more because they have been prescribed opioids more frequently, and deaths in the US have been higher due to higher opioid consumption, according to Ruhm.

Also Read: The economics of despair

Recent research by the likes of Nobel Prize winner Angus Deaton have focused attention on poverty and ill-health in the US

Also Read: Deaths of Despair or Drug Problems?

The benefits of Aadhaar may be far lower than what the government claims, and the costs significantly higher-than-anticipated, according to a staff paper of the Institute for Development & Research in Banking Technology (IDRBT) by an adjunct faculty at IDRBT, S Ananth. While the data on Aadhar-linked programmes do not provide conclusive answers, data from states such as Andhra Pradesh and Telengana suggest that the introduction of Aadhaar may have caused widespread exclusion in key social security schemes such as the public distribution system (PDS), the author writes.

Also Read: Biometrics and Its Impact in India

Political inclination of teachers has no bearing on classroom discussion of economic inequality, according to a new Brookings Institution post by Joel Westheimer of the University of Ottawa, and John Rogers of the Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access. The authors conducted a nationally-representative survey of teachers teaching social studies in public high schools in the US. They found that more than half the teachers discussed inequality at least once a week in classrooms. The frequency with which inequality was discussed depended not on the political inclination of the teachers but on their civic engagement. Active, aware teachers were also more likely to use evidence from multiple sources and as well as data to engage students in sophisticated debates.

Also Read: Teaching about economic inequality is political, but not the way you think

Economics Digest runs weekly, and features interesting reads from the world of economics.

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