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GWU / Political Science / PSC 1001 / Are there meaningful differences across developed democracies?

Are there meaningful differences across developed democracies?

Are there meaningful differences across developed democracies?


School: George Washington University
Department: Political Science
Course: Introduction to Comparative Politics
Term: Fall 2014
Tags: Comparative Politics, american politics, Assigned Readings, gwu, PSC 1001, and political science
Cost: 25
Name: PSC 1001 - Introduction to Comparative Politics Week 6
Description: PSC 1001 Political Science Dr. Jennifer Oetken Rome 206 Introduction to Comparative Politics The George Washington University In-Class Notes, & Notes on Assigned Readings
Uploaded: 02/22/2016
5 Pages 131 Views 1 Unlocks


Are there meaningful differences across developed democracies?

Introduction to Comparative Politics

Professor J. Oetken PSC 1001

Caroline E. Jok

What are post communist states that are developing democracies?

We also discuss several other topics like What was the nickname for the united fruit company?

The George Washington University

Class 9 ~ Are there Meaningful differences across developed democracies?

What are post communist states that are developing democracies

• Poland

• Czech

• Slovakia

• Slovenia  

Current Developed Democracies

• Japan

• South Korea

• Taiwan

• Israel

• United States

• Canada… etc.  

What are the common characteristics that developed democracies share  

• Capitalist economic system

Why do some democracies redistribute national wealth more than others?

Don't forget about the age old question of What are the five largest countries by population?

• Rule of law

• Promotion of participation of the people

• Participation, competition, and liberty are guaranteed / actively promoted. o How does participation vary in developed democracies?

• The rates in which people come out to vote vary

• In Australia it's compulsory to vote.  

• Variations in types of liberties

• Institutionalized democratic procedures and practices

• High Level of economic development and prosperity

• Changing of Values

Changes in Developed Democracies

• Ingleheart: world Values survey  

o Modern/Material values vs. Post-modern values

o Post Material: Quality of Life; environmentalism…  

• Surrendering State sovereignty through regional integration (ex: European Union) • Devolution of politician power to local and regional governments  

• Modern Values of progresses and innovation giving way to qualify love (post materialists)  • Post-industrialism: larger percentage of economy is industry than agriculture.  Why do some democracies redistribute national wealth more than others? If you want to learn more check out What is a moral life and why should i live it?

• Greater Levels of wealth equality

• Stronger working class and labor movements

• Ideological Differences:  

o Left leaning governments and societies will redistribute less.  

Inversion and Soskice

• PR Systems = More redistributive government

• Majoritarian Electoral systems will need to do less than redistributive government. How do electoral institutions shape the behavior and preferences of political parties and the electorate • The author assumes that class structures determine political preferences.

• What are the preferences of the upper class, middle class, and lower class with respect to wealth  redistribution.  

o Sub structures

Electoral Institutions and Party Systems We also discuss several other topics like Why are the 13th,14th, and 15th amendments known as the civil war amendments?

• Proportional Representation --> Multi-party systems

o PR System means there is also a prime minister

o Coalition government

o Etc.  

• Majoritarian electoral system --> Two-party systems  We also discuss several other topics like What is the most common mistake students make on binomial distribution questions?

o Middle class can form coalition with the left and tax the rich

o Middle class will vote for the center right party

• Why are you doing to see governments that redistribute more wealth?

Party Systems and wealth redistribution

• Why under a multi-party system, would the government be more likely to spend more on social  welfare?  

• Does the PR system allow for more negotiation? *Theoretical  If you want to learn more check out Why do we care about landslides?

• Question: where doe the middle class go?

• The structures are what are determining the preferences of the electorate

• Under a majoritarian electoral system, why would the government be more likely to spend on social  welfare?


• Majoritarian: middle class will vote for the center right part to ensure that the upper and the middle  class are not taxed and that wealth is redistributed to the poor

• PR system: middle-class can form a coalition with the left party and agree to tax the rich only and  redistribute wealth to the lower and middle class.

Reading Notes ~ Electoral Institutions and the Politics of Coalitions

Question: Why do some countries redistribute more than others?  

• Meltzer-Richard: the voter with the median income is also the decisive voter • Right skewed distribution of income

o Median voter pushes for redistributive spending

o Redistribution is greater in democracies

o Inegalitarian redistribute more than egalitarian.  

• Argument 1: power of working class and left political parties varies across countries.  o Redistribution is a function of government policies

o Partisanship explains cross national differences in redistribution

• Assumed to reflect the level of working class mobilization

▪ Really mainly determined by differences in coalitional dynamics.  

▪ Electoral formula affects coalition behavior and leads to systematic differences  o Why are some democracies left and others right?

o Two majoritarian system: center right is more likely to win, redistribute less than  o Multi party PR system allied left.  

• Test:  

o Partisanship and electoral system (explanatory variables accounting for redistribution  differences)

• Center of gravity of the cabinet:  

▪ Average of three expert classifications of government parties on placement on a  left-right scale

▪ Decimal share of cabinet portfolios

• How can we be sure that partisan effects are due to differences in who  

governs vs. differences in voter preferences:  

• Electoral system affects the party composition of governments and  

policies, not that electorates in different countries want different  

governments and policies

• Use the ideological position of the median voter.  

o Partisanship as the dependent variable  

• Variables that are commonly assumed to affect redistribution

o Pretax and transfer inequality

• More inequality leads to more distribution

• Measured as earnings of workers in the 90th percentile  

o Constitutional veto points

• Composite measures of federalism, presidentialism, bicameralism, frequency of  referenda, veto points

o Unionization  

• Power resource theory

• High union density should lead to more political pressure for redistribution and  stronger left

o Voter turn out

• Is voter non turnout concentrated among the poor?

• High turnout = less redistribution

o Unemployment  

• Higher unemployment is linked to more redistribution

o Real Per Capita Income

• Demand for social insurance is income elastic

o Female Labor Force Participation

• Entitles some women to benefits for which they would otherwise be ineligible • Women tend to be lower paid: increases support for the left and for redistributive  policies

• Findings:  

o Redistribution

• Inequality of pretax and transfer earnings: negative effect on redistribution • Effect of inequality reverses when controls for the political institution are included  ▪ Left governments cause an increase in redistribution and reduce inequality • Right partisanship has a strong and negative effect on redistribution

• Multiple veto points reduce redistribution

• PR has a positive effect on redistribution

• Conclusion:  

o Redistribution is the result of electoral systems and the class coalitions they engender.  o Essential to understand that policies are multidimensional and groups have to form partisan  coalitions to grow.

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