Nicolas Motz

portrait


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

nicolas.motz@uc3m.es


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

You can download my CV here.

Publications

Spillovers and Strategic Interaction in Immigration Policies

joint with Joseph-Simon Görlach, Journal of Economic Geography, Volume 21, Issue 2, March 2021, 287-315

Asylum policies are interdependent across countries: Policy choices in one country can affect refugee flows into neighbouring countries and may provoke policy changes there, in an a priori unknown direction. We formulate a dynamic model of refugees' location choices and of the strategic interaction among destinations that we fit to Syrian refugee migration to Europe. We find that south and southeastern European countries view recognition rates as strategic substitutes, whereas the same policies can be strategic complements in northern Europe. Our findings imply that regression frameworks which use cross-country variation to estimate effects of recognition rates on immigration underestimate (overestimate) the effect if this policy is a strategic substitute (complement).

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Asylum policies are interdependent across countries: Policy choices in one country can affect refugee flows into neighbouring countries and may provoke policy changes there, in an a priori unknown direction. We formulate a dynamic model of refugees' location choices and of the strategic interaction among destinations that we fit to Syrian refugee migration to Europe. We find that south and southeastern European countries view recognition rates as strategic substitutes, whereas the same policies can be strategic complements in northern Europe. Our findings imply that regression frameworks which use cross-country variation to estimate effects of recognition rates on immigration underestimate (overestimate) the effect if this policy is a strategic substitute (complement).

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

Social Choice and Welfare, Volume 52, Issue 1, January 2019, 161-196

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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Working Papers

A Career Like No One Else Can Offer: On the Conditions for Two-Party Dominance

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

The determinants of the number of parties competing in any given first-past-the-post election have been widely studied. Much less clear are the conditions required for two parties to dominate all elections across separate districts and at different levels of government, as is the case in the US for example. In this paper, I propose a novel model of party formation in which politicians use parties as a vehicle to establish a public profile in the early stages of their career, but may later on abandon the party and run as independents. I show that two parties can only dominate all elections if they provide sufficient opportunities for members while limiting the success of defectors. More specifically, I establish three conditions for two-parties dominance: $i)$ parties must be divided into a left-wing and a right-wing camp in any two-party equilibrium, $ii)$ voters at the national level cannot be too concentrated in the centre relative to the most radical districts, and $iii)$ politicians need to be sufficiently motivated by the desire to win elections at higher levels of government. Furthermore, I establish the existence of a specific two-party equilibrium featuring a centre-left and a centre-right party. An extension that introduces regionalism shows that high salience of this second dimension of policy is by itself not enough to rule out two-party equilibria.

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The determinants of the number of parties competing in any given first-past-the-post election have been widely studied. Much less clear are the conditions required for two parties to dominate all elections across separate districts and at different levels of government, as is the case in the US for example. In this paper, I propose a novel model of party formation in which politicians use parties as a vehicle to establish a public profile in the early stages of their career, but may later on abandon the party and run as independents. I show that two parties can only dominate all elections if they provide sufficient opportunities for members while limiting the success of defectors. More specifically, I establish three conditions for two-parties dominance: $i)$ parties must be divided into a left-wing and a right-wing camp in any two-party equilibrium, $ii)$ voters at the national level cannot be too concentrated in the centre relative to the most radical districts, and $iii)$ politicians need to be sufficiently motivated by the desire to win elections at higher levels of government. Furthermore, I establish the existence of a specific two-party equilibrium featuring a centre-left and a centre-right party. An extension that introduces regionalism shows that high salience of this second dimension of policy is by itself not enough to rule out two-party equilibria.

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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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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.

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