Ph.d.-forsvar: Sebastian Barfort: Essays in Political Economics: Behaviour, Selection and Preferences

The chapters collected in this PhD dissertation consist of four self-contained papers within the field of political economy.

The first essay studies the effect of economic hardship on voters' preferences for redistribution. The main finding is that negative economic shocks are strongly related to attitude polarization: voters who hold pro-market ideological beliefs decrease their demand for redistribution in response to an economic shock. I find evidence that the effect works in the opposite direction for individuals who are skeptical of free-market ideologies.

The second essay, written jointly with David Dreyer Lassen, Nikolaj Harmon, and Søren Serritzlew, studies the selection of politicians into public office. We focus in particular on how two key components of government architecture, size and scope, affect who runs for office as well as who is ultimately elected. The main finding is that increases in the size of local jurisdictions implies that more competent politicians run for office and are elected. 

The third essay, written jointly with Frederik Hjorth, Nikolaj Harmon, and Asmus Leth Olsen, asks what drives the selection of individuals into public service in the world's least corrupt country, Denmark. We find that dishonest individuals are less likely to want to enter public service in Denmark. Furthermore, we find that dishonest individuals who self-select into high paying private sector careers - such as finance - are less altruistic and place higher weight on their own earning opportunities. We also find that men are more likely to be dishonest than women and less likely to work in the public sector.

The fourth essay investigates the effect of panel attrition for important correlates in political science research. I find strong evidence of systematic panel attrition. However, the main finding of the essay is that correcting for selective participation has no discernible effect on well known correlates of political attitudes.