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  • Author: Vedran Dzihic
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Austrian Institute for International Affairs (OIIA)
  • Abstract: The internal weaknesses of the process of democratisation in the Western Balkans ensue from reinforcing a system where (ethno)politics and (ethno)political entre-preneurs use all available strategies to deprive citizens of any political agency, thus working towards obedient democracies while keeping real political power within closed circles. The conscious deepening of differences, maintaining negative tensions and instrumentalising – predominantly ethnic – identities for political or other particular purposes are some of the crucial features of (ethno)politics in the Western Balkans.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Balkans
  • Author: Institute CATO
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Why do we pay $600 for EpiPens, a long-existing piece of technology that contains just a dollar’s worth of medicine? Why do hospitalized patients so frequently receive bills laden with inflated charges that come out of the blue from out-ofnetwork providers or that demand payment for services that weren’t delivered?
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Cato Institute
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Congressional staff members play a vital role in shaping policy—they make decisions on which issues their bosses prioritize, which arguments the representatives and senators hear, and what language makes it into legislation. Cato’s popular Capitol Hill Briefings offer these staff members timely briefings on the most pressing issues facing their offices. At these events, Cato scholars and other experts update the staff on their latest scholarship and policy recommendations, critique current or upcoming legislation, and answer staffers’ questions.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: America
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Ambulances are notoriously expensive—one ride may cost more than $1,000, and insurance companies frequently refuse to cover them. In the past, patients had few alternatives to get themselves to the hospital—but in “Does Ride-Sharing Substitute for Ambulances?” (Research Briefs in Economic Policy no. 114), Leon S. Moskatel of Scripps Mercy Hospital and David J. G. Slusky of the University of Kansas demonstrate how the age of Uber and Lyft is changing that and is reducing expensive and unnecessary ambulance trips.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Richard Nephew
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Center on Global Energy Policy
  • Abstract: The president’s recent statement that OPEC should reduce their prices may merely be an attempt to assign blame for rising gasoline prices in the midst of the US driving season or an even more cynical attempt to rally his political base in opposition to globalism. Or, it may have something to do with the president’s own decision to create a crisis with Iran. While attention is duly paid to how much Americans have to pay at the pump, a more subtle and complicated story will soon play out with respect to Iran and the reapplication of US sanctions ordered by Trump on May 8, 2018. In fact, unless oil prices are contained, the primary result of the president’s action may be to ensure that Iran profits from the oil market risks that sanctions have created.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Geopolitics, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: America, Iran, Global Focus
  • Author: Bart Gaens, Marcin Kaczmarski
  • Publication Date: 09-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Even though bilateral relations have warmed somewhat, Japan has failed to convince Russia to make concessions with regard to the territorial issue of the Northern Territories/South Kuril Islands, or to cut back its cooperation with China
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Japan
  • Author: Ville Sinkkonen
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Foreign policy rarely plays a decisive role in congressional elections in the US. However, President Trump’s tendency to mix foreign policy into the domestic debate might increase its salience. Electoral success for the Democrats could both constrain and embolden the president’s international conduct.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Giovanni Carbone
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI)
  • Abstract: Africa is a fast-changing continent and an area of rising global relevance, where major transformation processes are currently underway, from demographic expansion to economic development, from social progress to environmental challenges, from technological innovation to continental integration, from political change to migratory pressures. How will these complex transformations shape the Africa of tomorrow? This Report sets out a vision for Africa’s future based on five key traits: an archipelago of heterogeneous growth trajectories; the revolutionary impact of technological leapfrogging; regional integration and the growing role of sub-regional processes; the clustering of instability mainly around the core of the region; and the migration movements that originate from – but also predominantly remain within – the African continent.
  • Topic: International Affairs, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Daniel Míguez, Matias Dewey
  • Publication Date: 11-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: A growing body of research, based on large-scale international comparisons, has associated socioeconomic development with several intervening factors, such as levels of respect for social norms, interpersonal trust, degrees of confidence in public institutions, or incidence of corruption in governmental bodies. The paper contributes to this body of scholarship by comparing the differing socioeconomic development experienced by Chile and Argentina between 1983 and 2013. Specifically, the paper inquires whether the greater socioeconomic development experienced by Chile was actually related to greater legitimacy of the law, higher levels of trust in public institutions, lower perceived levels of corruption, and greater interpersonal trust. The results of our exploration do not completely confirm or disprove this thesis. Instead, they reveal not only the need for a nuanced approach to how these factors relate to socioeconomic progress but also for their forms of association to be considered in the context of politically, socially, and economically fluctuating conditions.
  • Topic: Development, Political and institutional effectiveness, International Development
  • Political Geography: Chile
  • Author: Fritz W Scharpf
  • Publication Date: 11-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: The performance of EMU member economies is shaped by different and structurally entrenched “growth models” whose success depends on specific macro-regimes – restrictive for export-led growth, accommodating for demand-led growth. These two types of models cannot be equally viable under a uniform macro regime, and their divergence threatens the stability of the EMU. The present attempt to enforce structural convergence in the eurozone appears economically ineffective and lacks democratic legitimacy on the national and the European level. Assuming that complete integration in a democratic federal state is presently unattainable, the paper presents the outline of a more flexible European Currency Community that would include a smaller and more coherent EMU and the member states of a revised “Exchange Rate Mechanism II” (ERM) whose currencies are flexibly linked to the euro. It would restore the external economic viability of autonomous domestic policy choices, and it would protect its members against speculative currency fluctuations.
  • Topic: International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Sebastian Kohl
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: America’s “infatuation with homeownership” has been identified as one cause of the latest financial crisis. Based on codings of 1,809 party manifestos in 19 OECD countries since 1945, this paper addresses the question of where the political ideal to democratize homeownership came from. While conservative parties have defended homeownership across countries and time, center-left parties have oscillated between a pro-homeownership and a pro-rental position. The former occurs in Anglo-Saxon, Northern and Southern European countries, while the latter prevails among German-speaking countries. Beyond partisan effects, once a country has a majority of homeowners and parties defending homeownership, larger parties are more likely to support it. The extent of center-left parties’ support for homeownership is conditionally associated with higher homeownership rates, more encouraging mortgage regimes, and a bigger housing bubble burst after 2007. The ideational origins of the financialization of housing and private Keynesianism are, after all, not only conservative and market-liberal.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, Domestic politics
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • 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