Eunyoung Ha and Dong Wook Lee. "Partisanship, Fiscal Transfers, and Social Spending in Korea: The Politics of Partial Decentralization." Forthcoming @ Journal of East Asian Studies.
In the last three decades, many Asian democracies have decentralized their political systems to promote the democratic, equal, and efficient distribution of national resources across regions. Nonetheless, most of these countries, including South Korea, are still in a stage of “partial fiscal decentralization,” in which locally elected officials have spending authority, while a significant portion of their financing relies on transfers from the central government. This paper argues that the decentralized distribution is significantly influenced by the partisan interests of central and local governments. The central government transfers more funds to local governments that their co-partisans govern, and local incumbents follow partisan policy priorities to obtain the allocation of available fiscal resources. This argument is strongly supported by the empirical analysis of subsidy transfers and regional social expenditures in South Korea from 2002-2015. First, we find that the central government in Korea transfers larger subsidies to politically aligned regions. Second, regional governments with larger subsidy transfers have higher levels of social expenditures. Third, governors or mayors affiliated with a progressive party spend significantly more on social welfare and education than do those affiliated with a conservative party.
Lee, Dong Wook and Melissa Rogers. 2019. “Measuring Geographic Distribution for Political Research.” Political Analysis. 27(3): 263-280. [View]
Abstract: Political scientists are increasingly interested in the geographic distribution of political and economic phenomena. Unlike distribution measures at the individual level, geographic distributions depend on the “unit question” in which researchers choose the appropriate political unit to analyze, such as nations, sub-national regions, urban and rural areas, or electoral districts. In this research, we identify concerns with measuring the geographic distribution and comparing distributions within and across political units. In particular, we highlight the potential for threats to inference based on the modifiable areal unit problem (MAUP) whereby measuring concepts at different unit aggregations alters the observed value. To help manage measurement error when the unit of observation is unclear, or the appropriate data is not available, we introduce a new measure of geographic distribution which accounts for fluctuations in the scale and number of political units considered. We demonstrate, using Monte Carlo simulations, that our measure is more stable across political units than commonly used measures and it reduces measurement fluctuations associated with MAUP.
Lee, Dong Wook, and Melissa Rogers, 2019. “Interregional Inequality and the Dynamics of Government Spending.” The Journal of Politics. 81(2): 487-504. [View]
Abstract:We examine the distribution of economic productivity across subnational regions as a factor explaining the level and allocation of central government expenditure. As regional productivity becomes more dispersed, the preferences influencing national decision making should diverge, thus impeding agreement to expand the central state. However, if regional productivity becomes more right-skewed, an increasing number of less productive regions may be able to press for greater central outlays. Dispersion and skew of interregional inequality also shape the allocation of centralized spending. With growing economic dispersion across regions, decision makers are more likely to fund policy categories that aid citizens in all regions over those that are locally targeted. By contrast, with the distribution of regional productivity skewing farther to the right, central expenditure is likely to become more locally targeted. We find strong evidence for these propositions in error correction models using new measures of interregional inequality and government policy priorities for 24 OECD countries.
Ha, Eunyoung, Dong-wook Lee, and Puspa Amri, 2014. “Trade and Welfare Compensation: The Missing Links.” International Interactions. 40: 631-656. [View]
Abstract: This study uses theory from embedded liberalism to reorient the debate over efficiency versus compensation in the trade and welfare literature. We detail the causal mechanisms and provide empirical results that show how welfare spending can be a necessary condition to further trade liberalization. We argue that increases in welfare compensation lead to stronger public support for trade, which allows states to further advance along the path toward trade liberalization. Based on the 1995 and 2003 ISSP (International Social Survey Program) for ten OECD countries, our multilevel statistical analyses (individual and country level) show that (1) workers in import-exposed sectors tend to strongly oppose trade, but this effect is substantially diminished when they receive unemployment compensation, and (2) public support for free trade is significantly associated with higher levels of trade openness.
Dar, Luciana, and Dong-wook Lee, 2014. “Partisanship, Political Polarization, and State Higher Education Budget Outcomes.” Journal of Higher Education 85(4):469-498. [View]
Abstract: in this article, we explore how partisanship affects state higher education policy priorities and expenditures. We assume that party coalitions are heterogeneous and policy preferences/priorities differ via mediating factors. We find that Democratic Party strength positively affects state funding for higher education but that the effect diminishes as political polarization or unemployment increases.