Friday, May 03, 2013

Economic Freedom, Politics, and Problems

Economic Freedom of the World: An Accounting of the Literature 
 Joshua Hall & Robert Lawson
Contemporary Economic Policy, forthcoming

 Abstract: The Economic Freedom of the World (EFW) index was first produced by Gwartney, Block, and Lawson (Economic Freedom of the World: 1975–1995; 1996) and has been updated annually since. During this period, the EFW index has been cited in hundreds of academic articles. Here, we provide an accounting and description of this literature. Of 402 articles citing the EFW index, 198 used the index as an independent variable in an empirical study. Over two-thirds of these studies found economic freedom to correspond to a “good” outcome such as faster growth, better living standards, more happiness, etc. Less than 4% of the sample found economic freedom to be associated with a “bad” outcome such as increased income inequality. The balance of evidence is overwhelming that economic freedom corresponds with a wide variety of positive outcomes with almost no negative tradeoffs.

The Impact of Political Cycle: Evidence from Coalmine Accidents in China 
 Huihua Nie, Minjie Jiang & Xianghong Wang
Journal of Comparative Economics, forthcoming

Abstract: This paper examines the impact of political cycle on coalmine accidents in China. The political cycle is formed by the major local meetings of legislative bodies held every year in all provinces of China. This is because the government has a strong incentive to maintain social stability during the meetings and to focus on economic growth in other times. We test how such cycles affect coalmine fatality using monthly data at the provincial level between 2000 and 2010. We find that the number of accidents and casualties were significantly lowered during the local events of “two sessions” after controlling for other time fixed effects. The temporary reduction of accidents seemed to have been achieved by controlling production rather than by improving safety measures. The magnitude of the cycle for accidents is enlarged in provinces where media exposure is stronger and where the vice governor in charge of safety is faced with a possible extension to another term in the current post.

Nod to Kevin Lewis

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