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Government Spending and Re-election: Quasi-Experimental Evidence from Brazilian Municipalities

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  • Stephan Litschig
  • Kevin Morrison
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    Abstract

    Does additional government spending improve the electoral chances of incumbent political parties? This paper provides the first quasi-experimental evidence on this question. Our research design exploits discontinuities in federal funding to local governments in Brazil around several population cutoffs over the period 1982-1985. We show that extra fiscal transfers resulted in a 20% increase in local government spending per capita, and an increase of about 10 percentage points in the re-election probability of local incumbent parties. In the context of an agency model of electoral accountability, as well as existing results indicating that the revenue jumps studied here had positive impacts on education outcomes and earnings, these results suggest that expected electoral rewards encouraged incumbents to spend additional funds in ways that were valued by voters.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Barcelona Graduate School of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 515.

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    Date of creation: Feb 2012
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    Handle: RePEc:bge:wpaper:515

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    Keywords: Government spending; voting; regression discontinuity;

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    1. Fernanda Brollo & Tommaso Nannicini & Roberto Perotti & Guido Tabellini, 2010. "The Political Resource Curse," NBER Working Papers 15705, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Albert Sole-Olle & Pilar Sorribas-Navarro, 2008. "Does partisan alignment affect the electoral reward of intergovernmental transfers?," Working Papers in Economics 206, Universitat de Barcelona. Espai de Recerca en Economia.
    3. Mark P. Jones & Osvaldo Meloni & Mariano Tommasi, 2012. "Voters as Fiscal Liberals: Incentives and Accountability in Federal Systems," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 24(2), pages 135-156, 07.
    4. Francesco Caselli & Guy Michaels, 2009. "Do Oil Windfalls Improve Living Standards? Evidence from Brazil," CEP Discussion Papers dp0960, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    5. Linda Gonçalves Veiga & Francisco José Veiga, 2006. "Does Opportunism Pay Off?," NIPE Working Papers 5/2006, NIPE - Universidade do Minho.
    6. David S. Lee & Thomas Lemieux, 2009. "Regression Discontinuity Designs In Economics," Working Papers 1118, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    7. Guido Imbens & Thomas Lemieux, 2007. "Regression Discontinuity Designs: A Guide to Practice," NBER Technical Working Papers 0337, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Birdsall, Nancy, 1985. "Public inputs and child schooling in Brazil," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 67-86.
    9. Claudio Ferraz & Frederico Finan, 2008. "Exposing Corrupt Politicians: The Effects of Brazil's Publicly Released Audits on Electoral Outcomes," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(2), pages 703-745, 05.
    10. Drazen, Allan & Eslava, Marcela, 2010. "Electoral manipulation via voter-friendly spending: Theory and evidence," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(1), pages 39-52, May.
    11. McCrary, Justin, 2008. "Manipulation of the running variable in the regression discontinuity design: A density test," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 698-714, February.
    12. Lee, David S., 2008. "Randomized experiments from non-random selection in U.S. House elections," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 675-697, February.
    13. Sergio Sakurai & Naercio Menezes-Filho, 2008. "Fiscal policy and reelection in Brazilian municipalities," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 137(1), pages 301-314, October.
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    Cited by:
    1. Fuchs, Alan & Rodriguez-Chamussy, Lourdes, 2014. "Voter response to natural disaster aid : quasi-experimental evidence from drought relief payments in Mexico," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6836, The World Bank.

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