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Electoral competition in Brazilian municipalities: measuring the effect of campaign expenditures on the differentiation mayors canditates political platforms

Grant number: 18/16476-8
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): December 01, 2018
Effective date (End): July 31, 2019
Field of knowledge:Applied Social Sciences - Economics
Principal Investigator:Sergio Pinheiro Firpo
Grantee:Leila Albuquerque Rocha Pereira
Host Institution: Instituto de Ensino e Pesquisa (Insper). São Paulo , SP, Brazil


The theme of electoral competition and its implications for the formulation of public policies is widely debated in the literature of Political Economy. In particular, the Brazilian municipal electoral competition becomes relevant, because the 1988 Constitution establishes that Brazilian municipalities have the autonomy to decide which public policies to implement and are responsible for providing essential public services (Arvate et al., 2017). Recent studies attest to the importance of advertising (Da Silveira and De Mello, 2011) and campaign expenditures (Avis et al., 2017) in the Brazilian electoral process. The aim of this project is, therefore, to examine the dynamics of municipal elections with regard to the candidates' decisions to differentiate themselves, either through platforms or through their campaigns expenditures, by exploring the change in the electoral law which introduced limits for mayoral candidate spending in 2016. From a theoretical point of view, we generally rely on the electoral competition literature that begins with Downs (1957) and, in particular, we base ourselves on Ashworth and Mesquita (2009) who conclude that candidates differentiate their platforms to minimize competition with respect to campaign expenses. From an empirical point of view, the project consists of two main steps: first, to employ unsupervised computational reading methods to retrieve Latent Dirichlet Allocation topics. Then, using 2016 campaign spending discontinuity, created by the electoral financing law change, estimate the effects of limiting expenditures on the differentiation of candidates' platforms through Regression Discontinuity Design (RDD). (AU)

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