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Riksbankens Jubileumsfond awards money to two new QoG projects

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Today Riksbankens Jubileumsfond announced their decision on the applications to be awarded for 2020 and two QoG related projects were among the successful ones

Big congratulations to Anders Sundell and Mikael Persson for the project “Does popular influence over policy lead to good outcomes?and to Nicholas Charron for the project "Institutional Quality, State Intervention, and Democratic Accountability in Europe".

Does popular influence over policy produce good outcomes? It is surprisingly hard to say. The highest standards of human well-being are generally found in established democracies. But influential scholars have recently questioned the competence of the electorate, arguing that most people have little idea of what goes on in politics, and know even less of which policies they would benefit from. Research the last decade has also shown that it is far from certain that the existence of democratic institutions means that the preferences of the average voter impacts policy. A finding common to contexts as diverse as the United States and Sweden is that the opinions of the wealthy matters much more than those of the poor. If life is better in democracies, it might thus not be because people can govern themselves competently; instead, it has been argued that the good outcomes reflect other features than popular influence over policy, such as rule of law for elites, or the absence of corruption. This project will bring evidence to bear on the debate, using a new, world-leading dataset that combines millions of survey answers with data on the implementation of thousands of policies in 43 countries. We will thus be able to see whether political and economic outcomes such as growth, unemployment, inequality and satisfaction with democracy turn out better when policy follows the “will of the people.”

Institutional Quality, State Intervention, and Democratic Accountability in Europe

Since the turn of the millennium, leading international organizations, such as the World Bank and the UN have stressed the importance of ‘quality of government’ (QoG) for social and economic prosperity. This project analyzes several aspects of QoG, understood as fair and impartial application of laws and policies with low levels of corruption, and its causes and consequences in contemporary European politics. Building on 12 years of my previous work, the project is broadly organized in two parts. First, I study several consequences of QoG on citizens’ policy preferences. In a time of rising inequality, I investigate how QoG affects public demand for re-distributive policies like taxation, regulation, and inter-EU aid to members states in need post-COVID-19. I also ask how QoG affects preferences for authoritarian ‘strong-man’-type politics. Second, I am interested in causes of QoG along two lines. One, I study why voters hold some politicians accountable (or not) when involved in political corruption, and two, if and how political gender equality improves QoG. To carry out this research, I use newly collected primary data in 2020-2021 from several of my ongoing projects. I apply for the grant to, one, synthesize my current research projects and provide a deeper understanding of the causes and consequences of QoG and to have time to produce high quality publications. And two, to collaborate with several of the world’s leading scholars on these topics at Harvard University