World Politics

Published by Project MUSE

Online ISSN: 1086-3338


Print ISSN: 0043-8871


Electoral Reform and Public Policy Outcomes in Thailand: The Politics of the 30-Baht Health Scheme
  • Article

February 2011


119 Reads

How do changes in electoral rules affect the nature of public policy outcomes? The current evidence supporting institutional theories that answer this question stems almost entirely from quantitative cross-country studies, the data of which contain very little within-unit variation. Indeed, while there are many country-level accounts of how changes in electoral rules affect such phenomena as the number of parties or voter turnout, there are few studies of how electoral reform affects public policy outcomes. This article contributes to this latter endeavor by providing a detailed analysis of electoral reform and the public policy process in Thailand through an examination of the 1997 electoral reforms. Specifically, the author examines four aspects of policy-making: policy formulation, policy platforms, policy content, and policy outcomes. The article finds that candidates in the pre-1997 era campaigned on broad, generic platforms; parties had no independent means of technical policy expertise; the government targeted health resources to narrow geographic areas; and health was underprovided in Thai society. Conversely, candidates in the post-1997 era relied more on a strong, detailed national health policy; parties created mechanisms to formulate health policy independently; the government allocated health resources broadly to the entire nation through the introduction of a universal health care system, and health outcomes improved. The author attributes these changes in the policy process to the 1997 electoral reform, which increased both constituency breadth (the proportion of the population to which politicians were accountable) and majoritarianism.

Clio on the couch.

February 1980


5 Reads

An analysis of six recent works of psychohistory. A scheme is presented for classifying such works. Four different types of psychohistory are discussed; this typology is offered as a means of understanding and controlling the methodological difficulties inherent in the genre.

taBle 1 conflict and cooperation Based on prewar state nationality policies 
Constructing Interethnic Conflict and Cooperation: Why Some People Harmed Jews and Others Helped Them during the Holocaust in Romania
  • Article
  • Full-text available

February 2011


278 Reads

The authors draw on a natural experiment to demonstrate that states can reconstruct conflictual interethnic relationships into cooperative relationships in relatively short periods of time. The article examines differences in how the gentile population in each of two neighboring territories in Romania treated its Jewish population during the Holocaust. These territories had been part of tsarist Russia and subject to state-sponsored anti-Semitism until 1917. During the interwar period one territory became part of Romania, which continued anti-Semitic policies, and the other became part of the Soviet Union, which pursued an inclusive nationality policy, fighting against inherited anti-Semitism and working to integrate its Jews. Both territories were then reunited under Romanian administration during World War II, when Romania began to destroy its Jewish population. The authors demonstrate that, despite a uniform Romanian state presence during the Holocaust that encouraged gentiles to victimize Jews, the civilian population in the area that had been part of the Soviet Union was less likely to harm and more likely to aid Jews as compared with the region that had been part of Romania. Their evidence suggests that the state construction of interethnic relationships can become internalized by civilians and outlive the life of the state itself.

The Social Construction of an Imperative: Why Welfare Reform Happened in Denmark and the Netherlands but Not in Germany

February 2001


197 Reads

This article seeks to explain why Denmark and the Netherlands made dramatic progress reforming their welfare systems in the 1990s and why Germany had a relatively slow start. Some possible explanations found to be incomplete are institutional differences in welfare programs, the uniqueness of circumstances (for example, German unification), and the balance of political power in governing institutions. An important part of the puzzle is an increasing perception of the need to reform that was more widespread in Denmark and the Netherlands. The social construction of an imperative to reform in these countries generated a political consensus that was elusive in Germany but that may be developing under Gerhard Schroder's government.

Figure 1 of 1
The Impact of Regime Type on Health: Does Redistribution Explain Everything?

October 2011


601 Reads

Many scholars claim that democracy improves population health. The prevailing explanation for this is that democratic regimes distribute health-promoting resources more widely than autocratic regimes. The central contention of this article is that democracies also have a significant pro-health effect regardless of public redistributive policies. After establishing the theoretical plausibility of the nondistributive effect, a panel of 153 countries for the years 1972 to 2000 is used to examine the relationship between extent of democratic experience and life expectancy. The authors find that democratic governance continues to have a salutary effect on population health even when controls are introduced for the distribution of health-enhancing resources. Data for fifty autocratic countries for the years 1994 to 2007 are then used to examine whether media freedom—independent of government responsiveness—has a positive impact on life expectancy.

Some Conventional Orthodoxies in the Study of Agrarian Change

January 1984


11 Reads

The paper presents a critical review of two major approaches to the analysis of agrarian societies in light of evidence taken from the scholarly literature on Africa. The first approach posits the existence of “natural” societies; the second, of “peasant” societies. The existence of such “precapitalist” societies is often invoked to account for patterns of change in contemporary rural societies. The author argues that these approaches are overly culturally and economically determined, and that they undervalue the importance of the state. Many of the so-called precapitalist features of these societies are themselves found to be products of the societies' encounter with agents of capitalism. Moreover, many result from the efforts of states to secure domination and control over rural populations.

Ironies of State Building: A Comparative Perspective on the American State

January 2008


398 Reads

This paper challenges prevailing assumptions about the American State. It rejects the conventional distinctions between strong and weak and activism and inactivism as no longer adequate to the modern reality of the expansive and extensive American State. With this premise, the paper undertakes three tasks. First, it examines the reasons for the scholarly neglect of the State amongst students of American government and politics, concluding that the level of federal activism (including taxing, spending, regulating and war making) observable in respect to both Democrat and Republican administrations renders this oversight unsustainable intellectually and analytically. Second, the paper develops a typology of ways in which the American State has been an effective presence in the US political system including its role in sustaining and then ending segregation, in standardizing national rights of citizenship, and in militarizing society. Last, the paper shows how recent advances in comparative studies of the state, notably with respect to federalism and state-society relations, offer lessons for developing scholarly knowledge of the American State. -- In diesem Arbeitspapier sollen die Annahmen �ber den amerikanischen Staat �berpr�ft werden, die �blicherweise in der Wissenschaft gemacht werden: Die Unterscheidungen zwischen starkem und schwachem sowie zwischen aktivem und inaktivem Staat werden zur�ckgewiesen, da sie der heutigen Wirklichkeit eines expandierenden und ausgreifenden amerikanischen Staatswesens �berhaupt nicht mehr angemessen sind. Vor diesem Hintergrund leistet das Arbeitspapier ein Mehrfaches: Erstens werden die Gr�nde daf�r gepr�ft, warum die Forscher, die sich mit der US-amerikanischen Regierung und Politik befassten, den Staat so stark vernachl�ssigt haben. Dabei wird festgestellt, dass ein steigendes Niveau von Bundesaktivit�ten das schlie�t Steuern, Ausgaben, Gesetzgebung und Kriegsf�hrung ein - sowohl unter demokratischen wie republikani

The Difficult Transition From Clientelism to Citizenship: Lessons From Mexico

January 1994


440 Reads

Electoral competition is necessary but not sufficient for the consolidation of democratic regimes; not all elections are free and fair; nor do they necessarily lead to actual civilian rule or respect for human rights. If there is more to democracy than elections, then there is more to democratization than the transition to elections. But in spite of the rich literature on the emergence of electoral competition, the dynamics of political transitions toward respect for other fundamental democratic rights is still not well understood. Political democracy is defined here in classic procedural terms: free and fair electoral contestation for governing offices based on universal suffrage, guaranteed freedoms of association and expression, accountability through the rule of law, and civilian control of the military. Although analyses of democratization typically acknowledge that these are all necessary criteria, most examine only electoral competition. This study, however, develops a framework for explaining progress toward another necessary condition for democratization respect for associational autonomy, which allows citizens to organize in defense of their own interests and identities without fear of external intervention or punishment.

Explaining Patterns of Corruption in the Russian Regions

December 2004


150 Reads

Corruption is one of the key problems facing the Russian state as it seeks to evolve out of its socialist past. Naturally, regional patterns of corruption exist across a country as large and diverse as the Russian Federation. To explain these variations, we analyze 2002 data from Transparency International and the Information for Democracy Foundation that provides the first effort to measure differences in incidence of corruption across 40 Russian regions. We find that corruption in Russia primarily is a structural problem, and not one related to its institutions. Within each region, the amount of corruption increases as the size of the regional economy grows, the per capita income decreases, and the population decreases. Russian policymakers can therefore work to reduce corruption by encouraging economic development outside of the key centers of Moscow and St. Petersburg. Because the data show that voter turnout also lowers corruption, policymakers can also fight corruption by fostering more political accountability in elections.

Partition as a Solution to Ethnic War: An Empirical Critique of the Theoretical Literature

January 1999


117 Reads

Some theorists of ethnic conflict argue that the physical separation of warring ethnic groups may be the only possible solution to civil war. Without territorial partition and (if needed) forced population movements, they argue, ethnic war cannot end and genocide is likely. Other scholars have counter-argued that partition only replaces internal war with international war, creates undemocratic successor states, and generates tremendous human suffering. So far this debate has been informed by few important case studies. The author uses a new set of data on civil wars to identify the main determinants of ethnic partitions and to estimate their impact on the probability of war's recurrence, on low-grade ethnic violence, and on the political institutions of successor states. The author's analysis is the first large-sample quantitative analysis of the subject, testing the propositions of partition theory and weighing heavily on the side of its critics. He shows that almost all of the assertions of partition theorists fail to pass rigorous empirical tests. He finds that, on average, partition does not significantly reduce the probability of new violence. A better strategy might be to combine ethnic groups, but most important is to establish credible and equitable systems of governance. It is also important not to load the strategy with subjective premises about the necessity of ethnically pure states and about the futility of inter-ethnic cooperation.

Less Filling, Tastes Great: The Realist-Neoliberal Debate

November 1992


36 Reads

This essay examines and reformulates the realist-neoliberal debate. It focuses initially on the issue of the attribution of instrumental goals to states—the goals they pursue as a function of the environment they confront—and argues not only that such goals are epiphenomena of other things but also that their specification constitutes a mere redescription of the alternative equilibria that states can achieve in anarchic systems. The world orders that realists and neoliberals envision are but alternative equilibria to a more general game. In that game cooperation, regardless of its form, must be endogenously enforced, and a debate over instrumental goals (whether it is best to model states as relative or absolute resource maximizers) is not central to the development of a theory that explains and predicts world orders. Instead, the realist-neoliberal debate should be recast. The central research agenda should be to develop models that illuminate the following: how the equilibrium to a game in which states structure international affairs influences the types of issue-specific subgames states play, how countries coordinate to equilibria of different types; how the coordination problems associated with different equilibria can be characterized; how institutions emerge endogenously to sustain different equilibria; how states can enhance the attractiveness of an equilibrium; and how states can signal commitments to the strategies that are part of that equilibrium.

People in Villages: Micro-Level Studies in Political Economy

October 1978


19 Reads

Recent micro-level studies of rural communities in the developing areas address themselves to three basic issues: (1) What are the major external forces that determine the welfare of persons residing in rural areas? (2) How do peasants respond to these forces? (3) What ethical evaluations are to be made of the outcome of the encounter between peasant communities and the forces intruding upon them from their environment? By addressing these questions, and by formulating and utilizing explicit models of peasant behavior, these studies provide a coherent approach to the study of the developing areas.

Improving Forecast of State Failure

August 2000


51 Reads

We offer the first independent scholarly evaluation of the claims, forecasts, and causal inferences of the State Failure Task Force and their efforts to forecast when states will fail. This task force, set up at the behest of Vice President Gore in 1994, has been led by a group of distinguished academics working as consultants to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. State failure refers to the collapse of the authority of the central government to impose order, as in civil wars, revolutionary wars, genocides, politicides, and adverse or disruptive regime transitions. State Failure Task Force reports and publications have received attention in the media, in academia, and from public policy decision-makers. In this paper, we identify several methodological errors in the task force work that cause their reported forecast probabilities of conflict to be too large, their causal inferences to be biased in unpredictable directions, and their claims of forecasting performance to be exaggerate...

The Real But Limited Influence of Expert Ideas

October 2009


70 Reads

A number of influential studies in political science argue that important economic policy changes in the rich democracies since the mid-1970s were caused by the introduction of new economic ideas. This article claims that while experts exert strong influence over the selection of policy instruments, their influence over the formulation of policy objectives is much weaker. In the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, the predominance of Keynesianism in Austria and Denmark did not lead Austrian and Danish governments to maintain low unemployment longer than Sweden, where Keynesianism was less strong. But it did lead them to regard fiscal policy as an instrument that can be used to control the level of activity in the economy, while their Swedish counterparts relied instead on exchange rate and monetary policy.

The Challenge of September 11 to Secularism in International Relations

October 2002


127 Reads

The attacks of September 11, 2001, highlight the general absence of attention to religion in international scholarship. The absence is understandable, for it arises from the secularized nature of the authority structure of the international system, described here as the "Westphalian synthesis." Over the past generation, though, the global rise of public religion has challenged several planks of the synthesis. The sharpest challenge is "radical Islamic revivalism," a political theology that has its roots in the early twentieth century and that gave rise to al-Qaeda. If international relations scholars are to understand the events of September 11, they ought to devote more attention to the way in which radical Islamic revivalism and public religion shape international relations, sometimes in dramatic ways.

The Free Trade Epidemic of the 1860s and Other Outbreaks of Economic Discrimination

July 1999


328 Reads

Why was there an abrupt increase in economic openness in Europe in the 1860s? This increase may have been the result of a contagion process, in which the Cobden-Chevalier treaty between Britain and France threatened to displace third-party exports to France with British exports. As a result, most European states signed similar treaties with France, which had further ripple effects. This article outlines a formal model of this process, based on the assumption that an agreement between two states increases the desirability of similar treaties to third parties. Propositions regarding the rate and pattern of spread of treaties are derived from this model. This article then discusses the insights these propositions may offer into the rise and fall of the most-favorednation network of treaties between 1860 and 1929. At a theoretical level the model aims to link the microlevel processes underlying state preferences to system-level phenomena. At a substantive level this analysis offers insight into the current explosion of regionalism.

International Economic Structures and American Foreign Economic Policy, 1887–1934

August 2007


61 Reads

American foreign economic policy between 1887 and 1934 was shaped in important ways by the international economic structure and the position of the United States as a "supporter" within it. As Britain's hegemony declined, and particularly after it joined the United States as a supporter just prior to World War I, American foreign economic policy became more liberal and active. Once Britain was transformed from a supporter into a spoiler in the late 1920s, leaving the United States as the sole supporter within the IES, both the international economy and American policy became more unstable and protectionist. During the 1970s, the United States, West Germany, and France all emerged as supporters within the IES, indicating that a moderately stable and liberal international economy may continue to exist in the future.

Federalism and Central Bank Independence: The Politics of German Monetary Policy, 1957-92

April 1998


107 Reads

Two channels of political control allow elected politicians to influence monetary policy. First, political threats to the status, structure, or very existence of the central bank may force central bankers to comply with politically motivated demands on monetary policy. Second, politicians may use their powers of appointment to ensure diat central bank appointees share their electoral and party-political goals. This paper derives the monetary policy outcomes obtained as a function of me degree of central bank independence (zero, partial, or full) and central bankers' types (partisans or technocrats). Based on a case study of the 1957 and 1992 institutional changes to the German central banking system and a regression analysis covering the period in between, the author argues that the formal independence of the system is protected by its embeddedness in the institutions of German federalism and by the federalist components of its decentralized organizational structure. The behavioral independence of the German central bank fluctuates over time with the party control of federalist veto points. The Bundesbank is staffed with nonpartisan technocrats who are partially insulated from political pressures.

Institutional Diversity in Trade Agreements and Foreign Direct Investment: Credibility, Commitment, and Economic Flows in the Developing World, 1971-2007

March 2011


134 Reads

International trade agreements can help developing countries attract foreign direct investment. We ask whether differences in the specific provisions included in trade agreements have differential effects on FDI. Can trade agreements with more credible commitments to protect investment induce more FDI than other agreements? We explore four institutional differences among preferential trade agreements (PTAs). We first examine whether those that have entered into force lead to greater FDI than PTAs that have merely been negotiated and signed. Second, do trade agreements that have investment clauses lead to greater FDI? Third, we examine the impact of dispute settlement mechanisms in PTAs. Turning to multilateral agreements, we differentiate the GATT from the WTO, since the latter allows member states to commit more credibly to more comprehensive obligations. Analyses of FDI flows into 125 developing countries from 1971 to 2007 show that more FDI is induced by trade agreements that include stronger mechanisms for credible commitment. Institutional diversity in international agreements matters.

Contentious Politics in New Democracies: East Germany, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia, 1989-93

July 1998


35 Reads

The article reconstructs and explains the patterns of collective protest in four Central European countries: former East Germany, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia during the early phases of democratic consolidation (1989–93). The method of event analysis of protest behavior is employed. Content analysis of six major newspapers in each country provides empirical evidence. The examination of data reveals striking contrasts in the magnitude and forms of protests. In each country the policies of the new democratic regimes were contested by different groups and organizations, employing different repertoires of contention. The authors consider propositions derived from four theoretical traditions—relative deprivation, instrumental institutionalism, historical- cultural institutionalism, and resource mobilization theory—to determine which provides the best explanation for the patterns observed in the data set. Three main conclusions are reached. First, the levels of "objective" or "subjective" deprivation are unrelated to the magnitude and various features of protest, which are best explained by a combination of institutional and resource mobilization theories. Second, democratic consolidation is not necessarily threatened by a high magnitude of protest, since the two seem to be unrelated. Third, if the demands of collective protest are moderate and the methods routinized, then protest may contribute to the robustness of a new democracy.

Agenda Power in Brazil's Câmara Dos Deputados, 1989–98

July 2007


235 Reads

In this article we explore the proposition that all majority governments in systems allowing joint tenure of legislative and executive posts constitute what we call parliamentary agenda cartels. We define what an agenda cartel is, describe how to detect cartels empirically, and provide background information on Brazil's Chamber of Deputies. We then provide evidence on the structure of veto power in Brazil and test the cartel thesis. We show that Brazil has experienced only one true majority government, that of Cardoso, since the promulgation of the newly democratic constitution in October 1988. Moreover, it is only under Cardoso that an agenda cartel formed.

Research Note: Democracy with Adjectives: Conceptual Innovation in Comparative Research

April 1997


7,165 Reads

The recent trend toward democratization in countries across the globe has challenged scholars to pursue two potentially contradictory goals. On the one hand, they seek to increase analytic differentiation in order to capture the diverse forms of democracy that have emerged. On the other hand, they are concerned with conceptual validity. Specifically, they seek to avoid the problem of conceptual stretching that arises when the concept of democracy is applied to cases for which, by relevant scholarly standards, it is not appropriate. This article argues that the pursuit of these two goals has led to a proliferation of conceptual innovations, including numerous subtypes of democracy – that is to say, democracy "with adjectives." The articles explores the strengths and weaknesses of alternative strategies of conceptual innovation that have emerged: descending and climbing Sartori's ladder of generality, generating "diminished" subtypes of democracy, "precising" the definition of democracy by adding defining attributes, and shifting the overarching concept with which democracy is associated. The goal of the analysis is to make more comprehensible the complex structure of these strategies, as well as to explore trade-offs among the strategies. Even when scholars proceed intuitively, rather than self-consciously, they tend to operate within this structure. Yet it is far more desirable for them to do so self-consciously, with a full awareness of these trade-offs.

The Enemy Within: Personal Rule, Coups and Civil War in Africa

April 2011


166 Reads

Why do rulers employ ethnic exclusion at the risk of future civil war? Focusing on the region of sub-Saharan Africa, I attribute this costly strategy to the commitment problem that arises in personalist regimes between elites with joint control of the state’s coercive apparatus. As no faction can be sure that others will not exploit their violent capabilities to usurp power, elites maneuver to protect their privileged position and safeguard against others’ first-strike capabilities. These defensive tactics, however, reinforce suspicions and increase intrigue within the regime, undermining trust and triggering a security dilemma. In the face of a rising internal threat, rulers move to eliminate their rivals from the regime in order to guarantee their personal and political survival. But the cost of such a strategy, especially when exclusionary practices fall along ethnic lines, is it increases the risk of a future civil war. To test this argument, I employ the Ethnic Power Relations dataset combined with original data on the ethnicity of conspirators of coups and civil wars in Africa. I find that in Africa ethnic exclusion substitutes civil war risk for coup risk. And rulers are significantly more likely to exclude their co-conspirators - the very friends and allies who helped them come to power - than other included groups, but at the cost of increasing the risk of a future civil war with their former allies. In the first three years after being purged from the central government, the co-conspirators and other members of their ethnic group are 15 times more likely to rebel than when they were represented at the apex of the regime.

Table 1 . The Effect of Favorable and Neutral National Designs on the Tax Ratio
Table 2 . The Effect of Hinterland and Difficult National Designs on the Tax Ratio
National Design and State Building in Sub-Saharan Africa

October 2009


614 Reads

This article examines the political geography of state building in contemporary sub-Saharan Africa. The absence of interstate war has produced a unique situation for contemporary state builders in Africa--they have inherited states with relatively fixed borders encapsulating a variety of environmental and geographic conditions, compounded by varying distributions of population densities. The author examines the effects of a variety of strategies that African rulers have employed to enhance their state-building efforts given the type of national design they inhabit. These strategies include the allocation of citizenship, interventions in land tenure patterns, and the adoption and management of national currencies. The author tests the effects of these strategies on several dimensions of state capacity in sub-Saharan Africa from 1960 to 2004 using a variety of statistical analyses. The results indicate that the strategies currently adopted by african rulers have generally failed to substantially augment their capacity

Against the Odds: Retrenchment in Agriculture in France and the United States

July 1997


13 Reads

This article extends recent work on a comparative theory of retrenchment in social policy by asking whether the politics of retrenchment travels well across policy areas, with policy feedback remaining a crucial variable for explaining government success or failure. The article analyzes policy change in agriculture in the United States and France, a natural choice for an extension of retrenchment theory because agricultural policy resembles social policy in some respects but also provides telling points of contrast. The article finds that the call for new theories focusing on retrenchment is justified: the politics of agricultural retrenchment differs from that of expansion, and success at retrenchment varies by program. The analysis shows, as well, that retrenchment has been significant both in the U.S. and in France and the European Union. Variations in policy feedback help explain why these policy changes occurred. Moreover, the France-U.S. comparison highlights how systemic institutional factors shape the politics of retrenchment. Finally, focusing on agriculture, a policy sector in which international developments have a greater direct importance than they do in social policy, the article identifies an additional systemic retrenchment strategy: constraining domestic programs through international agreements.

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