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  • Author: Lea Elsässer
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: Empirical studies have shown that US politics is heavily tilted in favor of the better-off, as political decisions tend to reflect the preferences of the rich while largely ignoring those of the poor and the middle classes. These findings have prompted a lively debate about potential mechanisms that cause this pattern of unequal responsiveness. Existing studies suggest that specific characteristics of the political system are a major explanatory factor – in particular, private donations and campaign financing. We build on these studies but focus for the first time on an entirely different case. In this paper, we ask whether similar patterns of unequal responsiveness are discernible in Germany, which not only is a more egalitarian country, but also funds election campaigns entirely differently from the US. We analyze an original dataset of more than 800 survey questions posed between 1980 and 2013. The questions deal with specific political decisions debated at the time and cover a broad range of politically relevant topics. Our results show a notable association between political decisions and the opinions of the rich, but none or even a negative association for the poor. Representational inequality in Germany thus resembles the findings for the US case, despite its different institutional setting. Against this background, we conclude by discussing potential mechanisms of unequal responsiveness
  • Topic: International Political Economy, Hegemony
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Mark Lutter, Karlijn L. A Roex, Daria Tisch
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: Anomie and imitation have been prominent mechanisms explaining the Werther effect, i.e., the effect of celebrity suicides on a general population’s suicide rate. This study presents a new approach to empirically disentangle both mechanisms. Imitation theory suggests that celebrities act as role models, and that the Werther effect is triggered by the status of the celebrity in question. Anomie theory, on the other hand, suggests that the Werther effect is triggered by the unexpectedness of the event. To this end, we empirically compare the effects of celebrity suicides with the effects of celebrities who died unexpectedly from causes other than suicide (accidents, illnesses, alcohol abuse). Based on language and page-link data from 3,855 Wikipedia pages of 495 celebrities who committed suicide between 1960 and 2014, we measure the status a celebrity has in a particular country and calculate the potential country-specific imitation effect of their suicide. In the same manner, we measure status effects of celebrities who died unexpectedly from accidents, illnesses, or alcohol abuse to reflect anomie-related effects. We use these measures in a time-series cross-sectional dataset for 34 OECD countries to assess their effects on a country’s overall annual suicide rate. Fixed-effects analyses reveal that country-specific status effects of celebrity suicides lead to significant increases in overall suicide rates, while anomie-related, unexpected celebrity deaths show no effects. The findings remain robust across a number of alternative specifications, such as controlling for further anomic factors at the macro level (divorce or unemployment rate, for instance). We conclude that the results support the imitation mechanism as an essential social explanation for the Werther effect.
  • Topic: International Relations, Health
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Donato Di Carlo
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: German public sector wage restraint has been explained through the presence of a specific type of inter-sectoral wage coordination in the industrial relations system – i.e., export sector-led pattern bargaining. This paper has a twofold ambition. First, as a literature assessing exercise, I review the literature in industrial relations and comparative political economy (CPE) and find that (1) the origins and mechanics of inter-sectoral wage coordination through pattern bargaining have never been laid out clearly; (2) the mechanisms of the pattern bargaining thesis have never been tested empirically; and (3) the CPE literature reveals a limiting export-sector bias. Second, as a theory-testing exercise, I perform hoop tests to verify whether the pattern bargaining hypothesis can really account for wage restraint in the German public sector. I find that Germany cannot be considered a case of export sector-driven pattern bargaining. These findings challenge core tenets of a longstanding scholarship in both CPE and industrial relations. Most importantly, they open a new research agenda for the study of public sector wage-setting that should shift its focus to public sector employment relations, public finance, public administrations, and the politics of fiscal policy
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Germany
  • Author: Daniel Kinderman, Mark Lutter
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: Two strands of literature have emerged to explain the rise of a new form of private governance, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). One camp argues that CSR expansion is likely during periods of economic liberalization because CSR tends to substitute for growing institutional voids and a lack of social regulation. The other camp argues that CSR is likely to diffuse within coordinated economies because it mirrors these institutional settings. While both camps find empirical support for their arguments, no one has yet managed to combine both perspectives. In our study, we develop three hypotheses based on two (rationalist and constructivist/sociological) strands of institutional theory. Based on a new dataset comprising the corporate membership in business-led CSR organizations in over thirty countries from 1981 to 2008, we show that economic liberalization has a strong effect on CSR expansion when the legitimacy of CSR is low. However, when the practice has achieved substantial cultural acceptance, economic liberalization no longer drives CSR expansion. In this setting, CSR expansion is most likely to occur within socially regulated economic contexts.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Fritz W Scharpf
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: The end of the Bretton Woods regime and the fall of the Iron Curtain deepened the export orientation of the German model of the economy. Only after entry into the Monetary Union, however, did rising exports turn into a persistent export–import gap that became a problem for other eurozone economies. This Discussion Paper shows why the present asymmetric euro regime will not be able to enforce their structural transformation on the German model. Neither will German governments be able to respond to demands that would bring the performance of the German economy closer to eurozone averages. Instead, it is more likely that present initiatives for financial and fiscal risk sharing will transform the Monetary Union into a transfer union.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Germany
  • Author: Jeremy Konyndyk
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: The Government Reform and Reorganization Plan released earlier this year by the White House calls for substantial reform of US humanitarian institutions. The plan mandates that the State Department and USAID produce a “specific reorganization proposal” to “optimize” humanitarian assistance and “eliminate duplication of efforts and fragmentation of decision-making.” This policy note lays out guidance for how an ambitious but feasible optimization could be achieved. It is informed by two high-level private roundtables convened by the Center for Global Development to solicit expert input, as well as a desk review of documents, expert interviews, and the author’s own experiences serving in the humanitarian arms of both USAID and the State Department. While numerous experts contributed thoughts and feedback, the author takes sole responsibility for the views represented herein.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Susannah Hares
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: It’s tricky to evaluate government education policies. They’re not implemented in NGO-like laboratory conditions, and political motivation and public sector capacity constraints play as much of a role in their success or failure as policy design. Using the examples of three rigorous studies of three different education policies, this note aims to shed some light from the perspective of someone on the policy side on how, why, and when to evaluate government-led reforms. A government education policy is not an abstract theory that can easily be replicated in a different place. In each new context, it is effectively a brand-new programme and needs to be evaluated as that. None of the three examples presented was “new” as a policy: school inspections, school vouchers, and charter schools have all been tried and evaluated elsewhere. But the evaluations of these policies—when implemented in new contexts—illuminated a new set of challenges and lessons and generated a different set of results.
  • Topic: Education, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Josh Freed
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Third Way
  • Abstract: Third Way Senior Vice President for Clean Energy Josh Freed released the following statement on the United Steelworkers and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers drive to organize production and maintenance workers at Tesla’s solar factory in Buffalo, New York:
  • Topic: Climate Change, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Josh Freed
  • Publication Date: 09-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Third Way
  • Abstract: I am not only the Vice President for Clean Energy at Third Way, a center left think tank based in Washington dedicated to getting the United States to zero carbon pollution by 2050. I am also a native of the DC area and almost twenty-year District resident. My father was born here, as were my children.
  • Topic: Climate Change, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Ryan Fitzpatrick
  • Publication Date: 09-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Third Way
  • Abstract: My name is Ryan Fitzpatrick, and I am a resident of Ward 5 in the District of Columbia and Deputy Director of Clean Energy for Third Way, a policy think tank here in DC. As we saw yesterday with the release of the new report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world is facing an enormous challenge in the fight against climate change. We at Third Way believe that this demands urgent, aggressive action now to reduce and eliminate carbon pollution as cost-effectively, and from as many sectors of the economy, as possible
  • Topic: Climate Change, Globalization, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Gabe Horwitz
  • Publication Date: 09-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Third Way
  • Abstract: The basic tenets of Unemployment Insurance (UI) have changed little since the program was enacted during the Great Depression. It was built as a bridge for workers between jobs in similar industries that required similar skills. You lose your job and a weekly check tides you over until you land a new one, usually doing the same type of work as before.
  • Topic: International Affairs, Employment
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Michael B Greenwald
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: In the post-9/11 era, Washington has waged innovative campaigns against terrorism finance, sanctions evasion, and money laundering. Leveraging America’s heavyweight status in the international financial system, the United States Treasury has isolated and bankrupted rogue regimes, global terrorists, and their enablers. As financial technology transforms global business, the traditional financial system faces new competition across a suite of offerings, ranging from brokerage services to peer to peer lending. In no area is this clearer than in mobile payments, where a global hegemon lies ready to exercise its weight, and it is not the United States
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs, Financial Markets
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Martin S. Feldstein
  • Publication Date: 09-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: The cost to US consumers and firms imposed by tariffs on Chinese imports is not large relative to the gain that would be achieved if the US succeeds in persuading China to stop illegally taking US firms’ technology. But the Trump administration should state that this is the goal, and that the tariffs will be removed when it is met.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, International Political Economy, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Anna-Lena Kirch, Daniel Braun
  • Publication Date: 09-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: Germany considers itself a leading European power that utilizes its influence to promote EU cohesion in the face of Brexit and numerous other crises. However, a different picture emerges in European health policy, an area that is not only being discussed as an essential part of the EU’s social dimension but also in the context of its security and development positioning: Far from shaping the discussion, Germany is at times even perceived as the brakeman to an effective European health policy.
  • Topic: Health, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Asia Society Policy Institute
  • Abstract: HISTORY TEACHES US THAT PICKING WHEN ONE AGE ENDS AND ANOTHER BEGINS is a tricky business. None of us has the powers of reflection, perception, or anticipation to identify when certain tipping points of historical significance are reached. And when we reach such conclusions, it’s usually with the full benefit of 20/20 hindsight, which for those of us working in the rarefied world of contemporary public policy is not particularly useful
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Kevin Rudd
  • Publication Date: 11-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Asia Society Policy Institute
  • Abstract: U.S.-China relations have now entered into a new structural phase. Officially, the Americans describe this as a change from 40 years of “strategic engagement” to a new period of “strategic competition.” The precise definition of strategic competition, as an operational rather than a declaratory strategy, has yet to fully emerge. But we would be foolish not to recognize that there has been a fundamental systemic shift in U.S. sentiment toward China
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Affairs, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Don Rassler
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
  • Abstract: The Islamic State is a group known for doing things a bit differently, for its capacity for innovation, and for its many ‘firsts.’ Two of those ‘firsts’ happened within months of each other. The first occurred in October 2016 when the group used a bomb-laden drone to kill, after the explosive hidden within the drone killed two Kurdish peshmerga soldiers who were investigating the device. Another ‘first’ happened in January 2017 when the Islamic State released a propaganda video that showed nearly a dozen examples of the group releasing munitions on its enemies from the air with a fair degree of accuracy via quadcopter drones it had modified. And it wasn’t long before the group’s bomb-drop capable drones would go on to kill, too.
  • Topic: International Affairs, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Jason Warner, Hilary Matfess
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
  • Abstract: Since 2009, the Islamist group known as Boko Haram has ushered in a wave of violence across the Lake Chad Basin region of West Africa, at the intersection of Nigeria, Niger, Chad, and Cameroon. Among other tactics that it has employed during its reign of terror, the group has been noted for its use of suicide bombers. While the prevalence of suicide bombings has been duly recognized, little remains known about the broader arc of their existence and efficacy: What strategic and operational trends underlie Boko Haram’s use of suicide bombers, and how effective have they been at achieving their objectives? Just who are Boko Haram’s suicide bombers? Where are they deployed, what do they target, and how do different bomber demographics differ in their actions? More broadly, what does Boko Haram’s use of suicide bombers reveal about the past, present, and future of the terrorist group?
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Mehmet Ugur Ekinci
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: The decline in the speed of the EU enlargement and in the EU’s transforming power has led to the rise of alarmism among international commentators regarding the future of the Balkans. The argument is usually twofold: if the EU integration of the Balkans is delayed further, not only will ominous third actors jump in and bring instability, but also the Balkan people will start grabbing each other’s throats. This is obviously a hegemonic discourse based on the immutable assumption that the EU is and will be the only legitimate international actor to be present in the region and ensure peace and prosperity there. It also assumes, by disregarding the historical contexts of the earlier conflicts in the region, that the Balkan societies are inherently violent and immature.
  • Topic: International Organization
  • Political Geography: European Union
  • Author: Zeliha Eliaçık
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: To the contrary of its relatively “new” relations with the United States of America, Turkey’s relations with the West have been established and continued via Europe since the period of the Ottoman Empire.1 The military alliance and cooperation initiated between Turkey and Germany in the late 19th century have gained a human dimension in the frame of the “Turkish Labor Force Agreement” signed upon the settlement of Turkish workers in Germany in the 20th century. Bilateral relations have been maintained without interruption despite occasional fluctuations in the intensity of these relations. Recently, the two countries have maintained closer ties as they both are affected by the U.S. sanctions and “trade wars.”
  • Topic: International Relations, International Cooperation, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Germany, Global Focus