Nicolas Motz

portrait


Department of Economics
Universidad Carlos III de Madrid
Calle Madrid 126
Getafe
28903
Spain

nmotz@eco.uc3m.es


I am a visiting lecturer (profesor visitante) in the Department of Economics at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. My research interests focus on political economy, applied game theory, and structural estimation.

I am on the job market this year and will be available for interviews at SAEe in Barcelona, the RES job market meeting in London, and the AEA meeting in Philadelphia.

You can download my CV here.

Job Market Paper

Bureaucrats versus Politicians? Estimating a Model of Legislative Bargaining in the European Union

joint with Joseph-Simon Görlach and Christian Odendahl

Critics frequently claim that the European Commission has an undue influence on EU legislation vis-à-vis the Council and the European Parliament. We evaluate this claim by proposing and structurally estimating a dynamic model of the legislative process of the European Union. The estimated model shows that the most powerful forces shaping policy are the veto rights of the Council and the Parliament, while the Commission has a limited impact on the final shape of a proposal under consideration. Furthermore, the Council is located closer to the status quo than the Parliament, enabling the Council to use its veto to achieve favourable outcomes. The dominant role of veto rights implies that changes to features of the legislative protocol other than veto rights would leave policy outcomes effectively unchanged. We confirm this through a number of counterfactual simulations. Removing the vetoes of the Council and the Commission, on the other hand, would lead to a substantial shift in policy and increase the bargaining power of the European Parliament.

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Critics frequently claim that the European Commission has an undue influence on EU legislation vis-à-vis the Council and the European Parliament. We evaluate this claim by proposing and structurally estimating a dynamic model of the legislative process of the European Union. The estimated model shows that the most powerful forces shaping policy are the veto rights of the Council and the Parliament, while the Commission has a limited impact on the final shape of a proposal under consideration. Furthermore, the Council is located closer to the status quo than the Parliament, enabling the Council to use its veto to achieve favourable outcomes. The dominant role of veto rights implies that changes to features of the legislative protocol other than veto rights would leave policy outcomes effectively unchanged. We confirm this through a number of counterfactual simulations. Removing the vetoes of the Council and the Commission, on the other hand, would lead to a substantial shift in policy and increase the bargaining power of the European Parliament.

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Working Papers

Refuge and Refugee Migration: How Much of a Pull Factor Are Recognition Rates?

joint with Joseph-Simon Görlach - Submitted

The aim of this paper is to estimate the effect of changes in the acceptance rate of asylum applications on the number of arriving refugees. A challenge in doing so is the strategic interdependence among destinations, where policy choices in one country can affect refugee flows into neighbouring countries and may thus provoke policy changes there. To account for this, we calibrate a dynamic model of Syrian refugees' location choices that allows us to explicitly include the strategic interaction among destination countries. The calibration results suggest an elasticity of asylum applications with respect to the annual recognition rate of 0.3-0.4 for Syrian refugees, with likely lower effects for asylum seekers from other countries. We also find that a more generous policy in one European destination generally leads to a higher number of arrivals in other European countries, potentially causing sizeable reduction in the acceptance rate there. This points toward recognition rates being strategic substitutes. We relate our approach to more conventional ones that rely on cross-country variation.

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The aim of this paper is to estimate the effect of changes in the acceptance rate of asylum applications on the number of arriving refugees. A challenge in doing so is the strategic interdependence among destinations, where policy choices in one country can affect refugee flows into neighbouring countries and may thus provoke policy changes there. To account for this, we calibrate a dynamic model of Syrian refugees' location choices that allows us to explicitly include the strategic interaction among destination countries. The calibration results suggest an elasticity of asylum applications with respect to the annual recognition rate of 0.3-0.4 for Syrian refugees, with likely lower effects for asylum seekers from other countries. We also find that a more generous policy in one European destination generally leads to a higher number of arrivals in other European countries, potentially causing sizeable reduction in the acceptance rate there. This points toward recognition rates being strategic substitutes. We relate our approach to more conventional ones that rely on cross-country variation.

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A Higher Calling: Career Concerns and the Number of Political Parties

Heavily revised version of "How Political Parties Shape Electoral Competition" - Submitted

It is generally accepted that first-past-the-post elections induce a tendency towards only two parties competing in a given election. What is less clear is why we should see the same two parties competing in separate districts or at different levels of government, as it is the case in the US. In fact, it seems puzzling that no third parties are able to enter successfully in the US, given the almost complete lack of competition in some states. This paper proposes the career concerns of politicians as an explanation and demonstrates this in a novel model of party formation: state politicians would like to advance their career to the federal level, but only have the opportunity of doing so as a member of a federally successful party. If politicians value such career opportunities sufficiently strongly, entry of additional parties at the state level does not occur. There then exists an equilibrium with two parties, one centre-left and one centre-right, where each party dominates some states. When career concerns are weak, on the other hand, the number of parties in equilibrium will be at least equal to three with a tendency towards parties with a narrower ideological profile.

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It is generally accepted that first-past-the-post elections induce a tendency towards only two parties competing in a given election. What is less clear is why we should see the same two parties competing in separate districts or at different levels of government, as it is the case in the US. In fact, it seems puzzling that no third parties are able to enter successfully in the US, given the almost complete lack of competition in some states. This paper proposes the career concerns of politicians as an explanation and demonstrates this in a novel model of party formation: state politicians would like to advance their career to the federal level, but only have the opportunity of doing so as a member of a federally successful party. If politicians value such career opportunities sufficiently strongly, entry of additional parties at the state level does not occur. There then exists an equilibrium with two parties, one centre-left and one centre-right, where each party dominates some states. When career concerns are weak, on the other hand, the number of parties in equilibrium will be at least equal to three with a tendency towards parties with a narrower ideological profile.

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Who Emerges from Smoke-Filled Rooms? Political Parties and Candidate Selection

R&R Social Choice and Welfare

In many countries political parties control who can become a candidate for an election. In this gatekeeping role parties may be tempted to put their own interests first, particularly when voters have little information about candidates. This paper uses a theoretical model to demonstrate that electoral incentives can discipline parties to nominate high-quality candidates even when voters are initially unable to observe quality themselves. In equilibrium voters elect candidates that are ex-ante preferred by the party leader with lower probability. This effectively neutralises the bias of the party leader and induces her to use her superior information to select candidates according to the preferences of the median voter. This result requires that electoral competition is sufficiently strong. If competition is weak, nothing can prevent the party leader from following her own preferences. As ideological alignment between the median voter and a party reduces the degree of competition that this party faces, the median voter can be better off when parties are polarized. Excessively strong competition can be harmful, however, as some politicians cease to be viable candidates and the party leader is less able to select on quality. Allowing the party leadership to nominate candidates strategically makes the benefits of introducing primaries less clear than previously argued in the literature.

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In many countries political parties control who can become a candidate for an election. In this gatekeeping role parties may be tempted to put their own interests first, particularly when voters have little information about candidates. This paper uses a theoretical model to demonstrate that electoral incentives can discipline parties to nominate high-quality candidates even when voters are initially unable to observe quality themselves. In equilibrium voters elect candidates that are ex-ante preferred by the party leader with lower probability. This effectively neutralises the bias of the party leader and induces her to use her superior information to select candidates according to the preferences of the median voter. This result requires that electoral competition is sufficiently strong. If competition is weak, nothing can prevent the party leader from following her own preferences. As ideological alignment between the median voter and a party reduces the degree of competition that this party faces, the median voter can be better off when parties are polarized. Excessively strong competition can be harmful, however, as some politicians cease to be viable candidates and the party leader is less able to select on quality. Allowing the party leadership to nominate candidates strategically makes the benefits of introducing primaries less clear than previously argued in the literature.

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Competing Candidates, Competing Interest Groups, and the Efficacy of Political Threats

Interest groups seem to achieve large policy favours for small sums of campaign contributions. This has long puzzled observers. I provide an explanation of this so called "Tullock paradox" that is robust to competition among opposing interests. In the model, I allow interest groups to specify their donations as very general functions of policies and donations by other groups. This allows potential donors to influence the policy choice of an incumbent through threats of contributions to the campaign of a challenger. It is therefore possible that the incumbent chooses policies that favour a particular interest group even if this group has not made any actual donations. When lobbies face a small amount of uncertainty about the policy that the incumbent will choose, I am able to provide a clear characterisation of equilibrium. Policies are always skewed in favour of the group with deeper pockets. This group may also use actual donations on top of threats in order to increase its influence over policies. The weaker lobby, on the other hand, does not promise any money for any policy the incumbent may implement. Outcomes nevertheless differ from the case with only one interest group as the weaker group can become active if the stronger group tries to exert even more pressure.

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Interest groups seem to achieve large policy favours for small sums of campaign contributions. This has long puzzled observers. I provide an explanation of this so called "Tullock paradox" that is robust to competition among opposing interests. In the model, I allow interest groups to specify their donations as very general functions of policies and donations by other groups. This allows potential donors to influence the policy choice of an incumbent through threats of contributions to the campaign of a challenger. It is therefore possible that the incumbent chooses policies that favour a particular interest group even if this group has not made any actual donations. When lobbies face a small amount of uncertainty about the policy that the incumbent will choose, I am able to provide a clear characterisation of equilibrium. Policies are always skewed in favour of the group with deeper pockets. This group may also use actual donations on top of threats in order to increase its influence over policies. The weaker lobby, on the other hand, does not promise any money for any policy the incumbent may implement. Outcomes nevertheless differ from the case with only one interest group as the weaker group can become active if the stronger group tries to exert even more pressure.

Download paper