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Politicians' Luck of the Draw: Evidence from the Spanish Christmas Lottery

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  • Manuel Bagues
  • Berta Esteve-Volart

Abstract

It is well known that incumbent politicians tend to receive more votes when economic conditions are good. In this paper we explore the source of this correlation, exploiting the exceptional evidence provided by the Spanish Christmas Lottery. This is a unique lottery: 75% of Spaniards play, sharing tickets, and every year at Christmas 0.3% of the Spanish GDP is at stake. Because winning tickets are mostly sold by one lottery outlet, winners tend to be geographically clustered. These features allow us to study the impact of exogenous good economic conditions on voting behavior. We find that incumbents receive significantly more votes in winning provinces. Given that individuals are well aware of the random nature of the shock, it is unlikely that this effect is due to voters wrongly attributing economic conditions to the government. Moreover, information from surveys from the same period shows that Christmas Lottery prizes increase the propensity to vote for the incumbent, but they do not affect respondents' assessment of the government. The evidence is consistent with a temporary increase in happiness making voters more lenient toward the incumbent, or with a stronger preference for the status quo.

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Paper provided by FEDEA in its series Working Papers with number 2011-01.

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Date of creation: Jan 2011
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Handle: RePEc:fda:fdaddt:2011-01

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  1. Apouey, Bénédicte & Clark, Andrew E., 2010. "Winning Big but Feeling No Better? The Effect of Lottery Prizes on Physical and Mental Health," IZA Discussion Papers 4730, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Brunner, Eric & Ross, Stephen L. & Washington, Ebonya, 2008. "Economics and Ideology: Causal Evidence of the Impact of Economic Conditions on Support for Redistribution and Other Ballot Proposal," Working Papers, Yale University, Department of Economics 50, Yale University, Department of Economics.
  3. Mikael Lindahl, 2005. "Estimating the Effect of Income on Health and Mortality Using Lottery Prizes as an Exogenous Source of Variation in Income," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(1).
  4. Zeelenberg, Marcel & Pieters, Rik, 2004. "Consequences of regret aversion in real life: The case of the Dutch postcode lottery," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 93(2), pages 155-168, March.
  5. Nattavudh Powdthavee & Paul Dolan, Robert Metcalfe, 2008. "Electing Happiness: Does Happiness Effect Voting and do Elections Affect Happiness," Discussion Papers, Department of Economics, University of York 08/30, Department of Economics, University of York.
  6. Wolfers, Justin, 2002. "Are Voters Rational? Evidence from Gubernatorial Elections," Research Papers, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business 1730, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  7. Peter Kuhn & Peter Kooreman & Adriaan Soetevent & Arie Kapteyn, 2011. "The Effects of Lottery Prizes on Winners and Their Neighbors: Evidence from the Dutch Postcode Lottery," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 101(5), pages 2226-47, August.
  8. Javier Gardeazabal, 2010. "Vote Shares in Spanish General Elections as a Fractional Response to the Economy and Conflict," Economics of Security Working Paper Series 33, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  9. Weber, Roberto & Camerer, Colin F. & Knez, Marc, 1996. "The Illusion of Leadership," Working Papers, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences 992, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  10. repec:pse:psecon:2009-09 is not listed on IDEAS
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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Irrational voters & the economy
    by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2011-01-19 14:13:25
  2. “Why Do I Like People Like Me?”
    by Marc Abrahams in Improbable Research on 2012-05-13 04:02:40
  3. Politicians’ Christmas Lottery Windfall
    by Marc Abrahams in Improbable Research on 2011-01-25 05:02:41
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Cited by:
  1. Baldwin, Kate & Bhavnani, Rikhil R., 2013. "Ancillary experiments: Opportunities and challenges," Working Paper Series, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER) UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  2. Libertad González Luna, 2011. "The effects of a universal child benefit," Economics Working Papers, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra 1281, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  3. Kaustia, Markku & Knüpfer, Samuli & Torstila, Sami, 2013. "Stock ownership and political behavior: Evidence from demutualization," SAFE Working Paper Series 2, Research Center SAFE - Sustainable Architecture for Finance in Europe, Goethe University Frankfurt.

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