Three essays on political economy
Arevalo Bencardino, Julian Javier
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A frequent discussion in the Political Economy literature is that of the directionality in the relationship between economic and political variables. Are our society's ideas, political orientation, concepts of morality and values conditioned by our economic development or, on the contrary, are our ideas, values and worldview what determine our political and economic attitudes, and, thereby, our economic performance and political development? This thesis comprises two parallel projects that address these two different approaches. The first project studies the effect of having land or housing property rights on the decisions of households' members of whether or not to participate in civil society organizations; I develop this idea in a paper called "Civil Society and Land Property Rights: Evidence From Nicaragua". For doing this I use household level panel data for the years 1998, 2001 and 2005. I conclude that contrary to what happens in more developed countries, in developing societies a household receiving formal property rights reduces the incentives to participate in civil society. The second project is aimed at studying the relationship between religion and welfare states: given the different possibilities available in terms of data sources and methodologies, this project is integrated by two papers. In the first one. "Religion, Political Attitudes and Welfare States" I use data from the World Values Survey in order to study the effect of individual religiosity on attitudes towards the welfare state and, thus, its aggregate impact on welfare state policies. In the second paper of this project, "Political Elites, Religion and Welfare States in Latin America" I continue studying this relationship but instead of using data from ordinary citizens I focus on the study of legislators in Latin America. I combine quantitative and qualitative data and show that more religious legislators have less progressive attitudes towards the welfare state. Similarly. I find important differences across religions in the attitudes of their members towards the relationship of religion wits state, politics, society and the economy.
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