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Political Cycles in OECD Economies

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  • Alberto Alesina
  • Nouriel Roubini

Abstract

This paper studies whether the dynamic behavior of GNP growth, unemployment and inflation is systematically affected by the timing of elections and of changes of governments. The sample includes the last three decades in 18 OECD economies. We explicitly test the implication of several models of political cycles, both of the "opportunistic" and of the "partisan" type. Also, we confront the implication of recent "rational" models with more traditional approaches. Our results can be summarized as follows: a) The "political business cycle" hypothesis, as formulated in Nordhaus (1975) on output and unemployment is generally rejected by the data. With the exception of Japan, we also reject by the extension of the "political business cycle" model, with endogenous timing of elections; b) inflation tends to increase immediately after elections, perhaps as a result of preelectoral expansionary monetary and fiscal policies; (c) we fire evidence of temporary partisan differences in output and unemployment and of long-run partisan differences in the inflation rate as implied by the "rational partisan theory" by Alesina (1987); (d) we find virtually no evidence of permanent partisan differences in output and unemployment.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 3478.

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Date of creation: Oct 1990
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Publication status: published as Review of Economic Studies, 59, pp.663-688, October 1992.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3478

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  1. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1977. "Rules Rather Than Discretion: The Inconsistency of Optimal Plans," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(3), pages 473-91, June.
  2. Hsiao,Cheng, 2003. "Analysis of Panel Data," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521818551, 9.
  3. Olivier J. Blanchard & Lawrence H. Summers, 1986. "Hysteresis And The European Unemployment Problem," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1986, Volume 1, pages 15-90 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Alesina, Alberto & Tabellini, Guido, 1988. "Credibility and politics," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 32(2-3), pages 542-550, March.
  5. Robert G. King & Charles I. Plosser & James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 1987. "Stochastic Trends and Economic Fluctuations," NBER Working Papers 2229, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Steven M. Sheffrin, 1989. "Evaluating Rational Partisan Business Cycle Theory," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 1(3), pages 239-259, November.
  7. Mankiw, N. Gregory & Campbell, John, 1987. "Permanent and Transitory Components in Macroeconomic Fluctuations," Scholarly Articles 3207697, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  8. Alesina, Alberto, 1988. "Credibility and Policy Convergence in a Two-Party System with Rational Voters," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(4), pages 796-805, September.
  9. Terrones, M.E., 1989. "Macroeconomic Policy Cycles Under Alternative Electoral Structures," UWO Department of Economics Working Papers, University of Western Ontario, Department of Economics 8905, University of Western Ontario, Department of Economics.
  10. Clark, Peter K, 1987. "The Cyclical Component of U.S. Economic Activity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 102(4), pages 797-814, November.
  11. Nelson, Charles R. & Plosser, Charles I., 1982. "Trends and random walks in macroeconmic time series : Some evidence and implications," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 139-162.
  12. Bhargava, Alok & Sargan, J D, 1983. "Estimating Dynamic Random Effects Models from Panel Data Covering Short Time Periods," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 51(6), pages 1635-59, November.
  13. Nickell, Stephen J, 1981. "Biases in Dynamic Models with Fixed Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 49(6), pages 1417-26, November.
  14. Ito, Takatoshi, 1990. "The timing of elections and political business cycles in Japan," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 135-156.
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