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  • Author: Dr. Evan Ellis
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: Since the People’s Republic of China (PRC) began to open its economy in 1978, its relationship with Latin America and the Caribbean has passed through four phases. Prior to its 2001 entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO), it conducted limited engagements through principally diplomatic and cultural vehicles aimed at building relationships and winning diplomatic recognition among countries of the region. As its commerce with the region began to take off in the years following WTO membership, the PRC increasingly benefitted from commodity purchases and the prospect of access to its markets in gaining the attention of political and business elites in the region. With the 2008 global economic crisis, Chinese loans and investment, and the activities of its companies in the region, assumed increasing importance in the relationship. Yet despite the interest declared in China’s 2008 white paper toward Latin America and the Caribbean,1 the Chinese government remained cautious in going beyond economic, scientific, and cultural bonds with the region.
  • Author: Elizabeth Carter
  • Publication Date: 12-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: Economists assume increased producer flexibility creates production advantages. So why do inefficient French quality wine producers dominate their flexible, efficient Italian counterparts? French AOC wine producers created “corporatist” producer organizations which served three purposes: encouraged increased product quality information across the supply chain; allowed for the emergence of a unique production style; and enabled producers to define their production methods as “quality” via state regulation. Italian DOC wine producers have fragmented political structures at both the regional and national levels, causing producers to rely more on the price mechanism and less on political structures to coordinate supply chain transactions. Market asymmetries persist across the supply chain, making it difficult for producers to guarantee quality and adversely shaping their potential production and brand strategies. Solving supply chain problems through representative political institutions yields superior economic outcomes than uncoordinated market transactions because the former corrects market power asymmetries.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Politics, Regulation
  • Political Geography: France, Italy, Global Focus
  • Author: Adel Daoud, Bjorn Hallerod, Debarati Guha Sapir
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: This paper explores the degree to which exposure to reoccurring natural disasters of various kinds explains seven dimensions of severe child poverty in 67 middle- and low-income countries. It also analyzes how certain institutional conditions, namely the quality of government (QoG), have moderating effects on the relationship between disasters and child poverty. Two main hypotheses are tested. The first is that disasters do have an adverse average effect on severe poverty. The second is that disasters reveal a positive coefficient (i.e., more disasters, more deprivation) but that higher levels of QoG negatively moderate this effect, i.e., the adverse effect of disasters is diminished by increasingly high QoG levels. From 70 possible combinations of relationships (7 types of deprivation combined with 10 types of natural disaster measures), 11 have the expected correlation between disasters and child deprivation and only one has the expected interactive correlation between quality of government, disasters, and child poverty. Several unexpected results could also be observed which are discussed in the paper along with recommendations for future research.
  • Topic: Economics, Natural Disasters, Governance, Research, Child Poverty
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Martin Höpner, Bojan Jurczyk
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: This paper reviews Eurobarometer surveys from 1995 to 2010 and shows how Eurobarometer selects and frames questions in ways that systematically produce “integrationist” outcomes. The violations of the rules of good public opinion research concern incomprehensible, hypothetical, and knowledge-inadequate questions, unbalanced response options, insinuation and leading questions, context effects, and the strategic removal of questions that led to critical responses in previous Eurobarometer waves. It is highly unlikely that the violations happen unintentionally. Eurobarometer therefore blurs the line between research and propaganda.
  • Topic: Sociology, Public Opinion, Research
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Philip Korom, Mark Lutter, Jens Beckert
  • Publication Date: 12-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: The social science literature proposes two competing explanatory frameworks for the existence and longevity of super-fortunes: superstar or winner-take-all mechanisms, suggesting an increased dominance of new self-made billionaires; and mechanisms focusing on inherited advantages, suggesting an enduring importance of old family fortunes. Using panel data from the USA’s annual Forbes 400 ranking (1982–2013), this study analyzes factors that increase or decrease the likelihood of remaining listed among the American super-rich. We find initially that the percentages of self-made entrepreneurs among the highest wealth echelons of US society have increased significantly since 1982. Sectors that improved the most are finance (including hedge funds and private equity), new technology and mass retail. The decline of inheritance as a source of wealth and the rise of new tech and finance fortunes suggest low reproduction rates among superrich property owners. Family wealth, however, plays an important role if the longevity of fortunes is considered. While the literature predicts family fortunes to be taxed away, divided among a large number of heirs, or lost through incompetence, we find that scions of inherited great wealth (mostly up to the third generation) are more likely to remain listed in the Forbes 400 roster than self-made entrepreneurs. We conclude that even though entrepreneurship increasingly matters for becoming super-rich, it is first and foremost the ability of rich family dynasties to retain control over corporations and to access sophisticated financial advice that makes fortunes last.
  • Topic: Economics, Science and Technology, Social Stratification, Landpower
  • Political Geography: United States of America
  • Author: Thomas Paster
  • Publication Date: 03-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: What is the impact of business interest groups on the formulation of public social policies? This paper reviews the literature in political science, history, and sociology on this question. It identifies two strands: one analyzes the political power and influence of business, the other the preferences and interests of business. Since the 1990s, researchers have shifted their attention from questions of power to questions of preferences. While this shift has produced important insights into the sources of the policy preferences of business, it came with a neglect of issues of power. This paper takes a first step towards re-integrating a power-analytical perspective into the study of the role of business in welfare state politics. It shows how a focus on variation in business power can help to explain both why business interest groups accepted social protection during some periods in the past and why they have become increasingly assertive and averse to social policies since the 1970s.
  • Topic: Human Welfare, Politics, History, Sociology, Landpower, Business
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Wolfgang Streeck
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: The rise of the consolidation state follows the displacement of the classical tax state, or Steuerstaat, by what I have called the debt state, a process that began in the 1980s in all rich capitalist democracies. Consolidation is the contemporary response to the “fiscal crisis of the state” envisaged as early as the late 1960s, when postwar growth had come to an end. Both the long-term increase in public debt and the current global attempts to bring it under control were intertwined with the “financialization” of advanced capitalism and its complex functions and dysfunctions. The ongoing shift towards a consolidation state involves a deep rebuilding of the political institutions of postwar democratic capitalism and its international order. This is the case in particular in Europe where consolidation coincides with an unprecedented increase in the scale of political rule under European Monetary Union and with the transformation of the latter into an asymmetric fiscal stabilization regime. The paper focuses on the developing structure of the new consolidation regime and its consequences for the relationship between capitalism and democracy.
  • Topic: Debt, Monetary Policy, Democracy, Capitalism, Financial Markets
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Stefan Svallfors
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: As Hacker and Pierson (2010) have observed, politics is primarily organization: “organized combat.” To understand the outcomes of politics, we have to look at how it is organized over time: by whom and with what resources? I take Sweden as an example of how politics as organized combat has changed quite dramatically in recent decades. Sweden is often cited as an opposite to the United States among the rich capitalist countries, but it has experienced many encompassing policy changes which have not received the attention they deserve. The paper specifies how Swedish organized politics has changed fundamentally, including the dismantling of corporatist arrangements, changes in the economic policy decision-making framework, increased income inequality, weakened political parties and changes in their social bases, the decline of blue-collar union strength, the growth of the policy professionals category, the increased impact of multilevel politics, and the mediatization of politics. Today’s amorphous, invisible mode of elite-driven policy-making diverges greatly from the old corporatist structures and is accompanied by dramatically increasing inequality. Even in Sweden, the impact of money on politics has become stronger. The paper discusses what this implies for current politics and policy-making in Sweden.
  • Topic: Economics, Politics, Labor Issues
  • Political Geography: Sweden, United States of America
  • Author: Barbara Fulda
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: How can we understand subnational differences in fertility rates? The most common explanations see the key to these differences in the socio-structural composition of a region’s population and its structural conditions. However, such explanations fail to account for fertility rate differences in regions with similar populations and structures. This paper analyzes two social milieus in southern Germany and argues that variations in their fertility rates can only be understood through their cultural differences. Family extension patterns as well as opportunity structures (such as the availability of childcare facilities) are substantially influenced by the regionally differing cultural norms formed and held by social milieu members. To better explain differences in fertility rates and to understand the regionally differing effects of family policy measures, demographic research therefore needs to include culture in its understanding of demographic behavior.
  • Topic: Demographics, Sociology, Culture, Children, Research
  • Political Geography: Germany, Global Focus
  • Author: Sarah Hearn, Alejandra Kubitschek Bujones, Alischa Kugel
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: There is a broad agreement that the United Nations’ “Peacebuilding Architecture” (PBA) has failed to live up to the high hopes that existed when the 2005 World Summit agreed to establish the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) and its related entities, the Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO) and the Peacebuilding Fund (PBF). This paper explores why this is the case. We briefly review the initial logic and expectations of the PBA in part 1, and sketch out the factors that have affected the PBA’s impact both positively and negatively in part 2. We also think it is important to understand the PBA in the context of the evolution and expansion of wider UN peacebuilding efforts, and further detail the existing relationships with UN peace operations in part 3.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, United Nations, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: Global Focus