Monday, November 17, 2008

Tu Voto Es Secreto, Tu Firma No

How scary is Hugo Chavez's regime in Venezuela? For $1.50 on the street you can buy a government-produced database of all the registered voters in Venezuela, complete with information on whether they signed one of the anti-Chavez recall petitions, and what government welfare they receive. If you don't have time to go to Caracas, you can download the database here.

Besides Chavistas, the users of the Maisanta database include some well-known economists. One of the authors of this working paper presented it at my department today. Combining that database with household cross-sectional data from Venezuela, the authors find a significant increase in unemployment and a significant decrease in wages among those who signed one of the petitions in 2002-2003.

They presented this evidence in Venezuela, to which their audience said, "Duh. Why did you waste your time writing a paper about something so obvious?"

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