Essays on Politics and Health Economics
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Essay I (with Mattias Öhman): Fluoridation of the drinking water is a public policy whose aim is to improve dental health. Although the evidence is clear that fluoride is good for dental health, concerns have been raised regarding potential negative effects on cognitive development. We study the effects of fluoride exposure through the drinking water in early life on cognitive and non-cognitive ability, education and labor market outcomes in a large-scale setting. We use a rich Swedish register dataset for the cohorts born 1985-1992, together with drinking water fluoride data. To estimate the effect we exploit intra-municipality variation of fluoride, stemming from an exogenous variation in the bedrock. First, we investigate and confirm the long-established positive relationship between fluoride and dental health. Second, we find precisely estimated zero effects on cognitive ability, non-cognitive ability and education. We do not find any evidence that fluoride levels below 1.5 mg/l have negative effects. Third, we find evidence that fluoride improves labor market outcome later in life, which indicates that good dental health is a positive factor on the labor market.
Essay II: Motivated by the intense public debate in the United States regarding politicians’ backgrounds, I investigate the effects of electing a candidate with earlier experience from elective office to the House of Representatives. The U.S. two-party-system with single-member election districts enables me to estimate the causal effect in a RD design where the outcomes are measured at the election district level. I find some indications that candidates with earlier elective experience are more likely to be members of important congressional committees. I also find some indications that directed federal spending (pork barrel spending) is higher in those districts were the elected representative had earlier elective experience prior of being elected to the House, but the effect manifests itself some years after the election. In contrast, I find no robust or statistically significant effects for personal income per capita or unemployment rate in the home district.
Essay III: This paper uses Swedish and Finnish municipal data to investigate the effect of changes in voter turnout on the tax rate, public spending and vote-shares. A reform in Sweden in 1970, which overall lowered the cost of voting, is applied as an instrument for voter turnout in local elections. The reform increased voter turnout in Sweden. The higher voter turnout resulted in higher municipal taxes and greater per capita local public spending. There are also indications that higher turnout decreased the vote share for right-wing parties. I use an individual survey data set to conclude that it was in particular low income earners that began to vote to a greater extent after the reform.
Essay IV (with Lovisa Persson): In a theoretical model where voters and politicians have different preferences for how much to spend on basic welfare services contra reception services for asylum seekers, we conclude that established politicians that are challenged by right-wing populists will implement a policy with no spending on asylum seekers if the cost is high enough. Additionally, adjustment to right-wing populist policy is more likely when the economy is in a recession. Voters differ in their level of private consumption in such a way that lower private consumption implies higher demand for basic welfare services at the expense of reception of asylum seekers, and thus stronger disposition to support right-wing populist policies. We propose that this within-budget-distributional conflict can arise as an electorally decisive conflict dimension if parties have converged to the median voter on the size-of-government issue.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Department of Economics, Uppsala University , 2016. , 203 p.
Economic studies, ISSN 0283-7668 ; 162
Fluoride, Cognitive ability, Non-cognitive ability, Income, Education, Employment, Dental health, Political Leadership, American politics, Regression discontinuity, Voter turnout, Local public finance, Sweden, Finland, Right-wing populism, welfare chauvinism
Research subject Economics
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-296301ISBN: 978-91-85519-69-9OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-296301DiVA: diva2:938447
2016-09-16, Hörsal 2, Ekonomikum, Ekonomikum, Kyrkogårdsgatan 10 B, Uppsala, 13:15 (English)
Kotakorpi, Kaisa, Professor
Mörk, Eva, ProfessorElinder, Mikael, Docent
List of papers