Collection: Journal of Public Finance and Public Choice Most Read of 2021

 

Enjoy free access to the Journal of Public Finance and Public Choice's top 5 most downloaded articles published in 2021. Access these articles for free until 31 July.

Journal of Public Finance and Public Choice most read of 2021

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Were policy responses of the US states to the pandemic driven by partisan politics or by budgetary reasons? We show that balanced-budget rules also had an impact, mediated by the possibility of benefiting from the funds previously stored in budget stabilisation funds. State policymakers tried to square the circle by simultaneously respecting budget rules, limiting the economic impact of the social distancing measures, combating the pandemic and pandering to their political bases. Some fiscal rules have induced a trade-off between health and public finance, which may reignite the debate on the pro-cyclicality of fiscal rules.

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This article provides a quantitative examination of the link between political institutions and deaths during the first 100 days of the COVID-19 pandemic. We demonstrate that countries with more democratic political institutions experienced deaths on a larger per capita scale than less democratic countries. The result is robust to the inclusion of many relevant controls, a battery of estimation techniques and estimation with instrumental variables for the institutional measures. Additionally, we examine the extent to which COVID-19 deaths were impacted heterogeneously by policy responses across types of political institutions. Policy responses in democracies were less effective in reducing deaths in the early stages of the crisis. The results imply that democratic political institutions may have a disadvantage in responding quickly to pandemics.

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This study explores the link between regular grandparental childcare and SARS-CoV-2 infection rates at the level of German counties. In our analysis, we suggest that a region’s infection rates are shaped by region-, household- and individual-specific parameters. We extensively draw on the latter, exploring the intra- and extra-familial mechanisms fuelling individual contact frequency to test the potential role of regular grandparental childcare in explaining overall infection rates. We combine aggregate survey data with local administrative data for German counties and find a positive correlation between the frequency of regular grandparental childcare and local SARS-CoV-2 infection rates. However, the statistical significance of this relationship breaks down as soon as potentially confounding factors, in particular, the local Catholic population share, are controlled for. Our findings do not provide valid support for a significant role of grandparental childcare in driving SARS-CoV-2 infections, but rather suggest that the frequency of extra-familial contacts driven by religious communities might be a more relevant channel in this context. Our results cast doubt on simplistic narratives postulating a link between intergenerational contacts and infection rates.

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In 2012, Vermont became the first state in the US to ban hydraulic fracturing for natural gas and oil production despite having zero known natural gas reserves. We evaluate the role of legislator and median voter characteristics on Vermont General Assembly voting outcomes on Act 152, which essentially bans fracking in the state. Using a double-selection post-Least Absolute Shrinkage and Selection Operator approach, we find evidence that campaign donations and being a member of the Democratic Party are positively related to voting to ban fracking. Median voter characteristics appear not to play an essential role in shaping legislator voting behaviour, corroborating the theory of expressive voting on the decision to ban fracking in Vermont.

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Author: James Fenske

Blithering idiot. You agreed to write an article-length review on the new book by Acemoglu and Robinson. Acemoglu has published more in the last five years than you have in your whole career. You’re pretty sure Robinson was one of your letter writers. Hither have you come? What if you make a fool of yourself? What if you say something that upsets them? … You have to do this. Manoel Bittencourt flew you to Johannesburg. You drank his scotch while making him listen to the latest Soen album. You owe him. It’s just a book review. You can do this.

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