The ZEW Mannheim is pleased to host an online workshop on current topics in political economy on 4 and 5 February 2021. The session on the first day comprises contributions to the role of direct democracy for taxation, the implications of women in politics as well as the persistence of elite structures after democratic transitions. On the second day, presentations feature evidence on the role of perceptions of public and religious organisations as well as the political relevance of public expenditures and government transfers. All papers at the workshop use modern econometric methods to identify causal effects of interest. All presenters were personally invited by the organisers.