Sheffield workshop in Political Economy

The Sheffield Interdisciplinary Political Economy Research Group (SiPErg) hosts the Sheffield Workshop in Political Economy each year. The aim of this workshop is to provide an interactive platform for discussing recent advances in political economy and to stimulate collaboration and interdisciplinary thinking between economists and political scientists.

Photo of delegates at the Sheffield Workshop in Political Economy 2018


Keynote speaker: Professor Raymond Duch, University of Oxford

Professor Raymond Duch is an Official Fellow at Nuffield College, University of Oxford, and the Director of the Nuffield Centre for Experimental Social Sciences (CESS). Prior to assuming these positions he was the Senator Don Henderson Scholar in Political Science at the University of Houston.

Professor Dutch is currently the Long Term Visiting Professor at the Institute for Advanced Studies, Toulouse School of Economics, a Director of the European Political Science Association, and Vice-President of the Midwest Political Science Association.

He is a member of the UK Cabinet Office Cross-Whitehall Trial Advice Panel to offer Whitehall departments technical support in designing and implementing controlled experiments to assess policy effectiveness. Professor Duch’s research focuses on responsibility attribution, incorporating elements of theory, experiments and analysis of public opinion. His research appears in the leading political science and economic journals.


Electoral Institutions and Intraparty Cohesion

We study parties' optimal ideological cohesion across electoral rules, when the following trade-off is present: A more heterogenous set of candidates is electorally appealing (catch-all party), yet, it serves policy-related goals less efficiently. When the rule becomes more disproportional, thus inducing a more favorable seat allocation for the winner, the first effect is amplified, incentivizing parties to be less cohesive. We provide empirical support using a unique data-set that records candidates' ideological positions in Finnish municipal elections. Exploiting an exogenous change of electoral rule disproportionality at different population thresholds, we identify the causal effect of electoral rules on parties' cohesion.

Churching for Welfare: Politics and Religiosity in the US 1996-2010

Are religious beliefs influenced by policy? The faith-based initiatives, commenced in the 1990s in the US and still ongoing today, facilitated the ability of religious organizations to provide government-funded social services in a religious setting. More generally, the initiatives aimed to strengthen the cooperation between church and state. We utilize the different uptake in terms of legislative changes over the period 1996-2010 across states and find that churchgoing increased more in states that passed more faith-based initiatives.

The results hold when including state and time fixed effects, various individual- and state level controls, including general public spending. The results do not seem to be driven by increased churchgoing (or any other important confounders) prior to the law changes. We proceed to show that the laws also increased intrinsic religiosity such as strength of affiliation and beliefs that the Bible is the word of God. Last, we investigate the mechanism: Is the impact due to increased money through the churches or a general intensification of religion in the public sphere? The results point to increased church-state cooperation as one explanation for the continued high religiosity levels in many US states.

The Electoral Consequences of State Violence: Evidence from the Catalan 2017 Referendum

While large literature sheds light on how authoritarian governments use state violence to suppress political expression and deter collective action, little is known about the comparatively rare use of state violence and its effects in democratic countries. Does the experience of state repression polarize views against the democratic regime? Does it foster or suppress political participation? We address these questions by exploring the impact of police violence during the 2017 Catalan independence referendum.

Leveraging panel data on vote outcomes from the 2012, 2015 and 2017 elections and distance to the police headquarter as an instrumental variable, we examine whether violent interventions by the Spanish police during the independence referendum affected turnout and pro-independence support in the subsequent regional election scheduled for 21 December2017. In addition, we delve into the mechanism and exploit an original survey conducted in forty polling stations, half of them ’treated’ with police violence during the Election Day. Overall, we find that violence increased the relative share of the votes received by pro-independence parties. Results shed light on the impact of state violence on political polarization and mass political participation.

The Popular Side of Austerity: Public Support for Budget Balance in Europe

The politics of fiscal policy in Europe since the financial crisis poses an important puzzle to political economy scholarship. Political parties campaigning on and implementing austerity policies were installed and maintained in office despite – or even because of – economic policy choices imposing widespread costs. Canonical theories in political science, and in economics, provide little help in understanding these dynamics.

The former stress the difficulties of raising taxes and of reducing spending, while political economists’ concerns over political business cycles assume voters reward outlays and tax cuts at the ballot box. In this paper we argue that this puzzle can be resolved with reference to a high degree of deficit aversion in public opinion, at least in the post-2008 period. We make three empirical arguments. First, evidence from the Eurobarometer shows that voter preferences across Europe have shown a high and consistent aversion to government budget deficits since systematic data collection on the issue began in 2010. Second, this is not a meaningless demand for a “good thing”.

People (in eight western European countries) are willing to trade off spending on valued public goods (education) if the consequence of that spending would be worsening budget balance. Finally, we identify important downstream political consequences of preferences over fiscal stance. Panel data from Britain reveal that balanced budget preferences were highly consequential for vote choice. Taken together, these arguments indicate that macroeconomic policy preferences are an important element of the political economy in Western Europe today. Distinct from preferences over redistributive state intervention, the anti-deficit tendency of public opinion sways electoral outcomes.

Politics in the Facebook Era. Evidence from the 2016 US Presidential Elections

Social media enable politicians to personalize their campaigns and target voters who may be decisive for the outcome of elections. We assess the effects of such political “micro-targeting” by exploiting variation in daily advertising prices on Facebook, collected during the course of the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. We analyze the variation of prices across political ideologies and propose a measure for the intensity of online political campaigns.

Combining this measure with information from the ANES electoral survey, we address two fundamental questions: (i) To what extent did political campaigns use social media to micro-target voters? (ii) How large was the effect, if any, on voters who were heavily exposed to campaigning on social media? We find that online political campaigns targeted on users’ gender, geographic location, and political ideology had a significant effect in persuading undecided voters to support Mr Trump, and in persuading Republican supporters to turn out on polling day. Moreover the effect of micro-targeting on Facebook was strongest among users without university or college-level education.

‘Finance fragmented? Frankfurt and Paris as European financial centres after Brexit’

Brexit creates an opportunity for alternative European financial centres. However, no comprehensive empirical analysis of the strategic positioning of actors within these financial centres has been conducted. In this article I outline findings from an extensive research project which I conducted in Frankfurt and Paris, two of the main ‘rivals’ to the City of London, in the aftermath of Brexit.

The paper outlines the core findings from this project and argues that the emerging competition between Frankfurt and Paris is shaped through four related axes: diversity, path dependency, territory and regulatory stability. The analysis has implications for two bodies of literature within EU studies. First, inter-governmentalist and supra-nationalist approaches would benefit from interrogating more closely the contested sub-national politics of financial centres. Second, our analysis adds to a growing body of literature on European disintegration by interrogating the interaction of fragmentary and integrative dynamics in the sphere of European finance.

Previous workshops


Keynote speaker: Professor Tim Besley (London School of Economics).


Keynote speakers: Professor Torun Dewan, London School of Economics, and Professor Ben Lockwood, University of Warwick.


Keynote speakers: Professor Vincenzo Galasso, University of Bocconi, and Professor Ola Olsson, University of Gothenburg.


Keynote speakers: Dr Toke Aidt, Professor Axel Dreher, Professor Martin Paldam.

Events at the University

Browse upcoming public lectures, exhibitions, family events, concerts, shows and festivals across the University.