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Incumbency Effects in German and British Elections: A Quasi- Experimental Approach

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Author Info

  • Jens Hainmueller

    (Harvard University)

  • Holger Lutz Kern

    (Cornell University)

Abstract

Following the recent turn towards quasi-experimental approaches in the US literature on the incumbency advantage (Lee, 2001; Lee, forthcoming), we employ a Regression Discontinuity Design (RDD) to identify the causal effects of party incumbency in British and German post-World War II elections. The RDD framework exploits the randomized variation in incumbency status that occurs when a district race is close. Based on the assumption that parties do not exert perfect control over their observed vote shares, incumbents that barely won a race should be similar in their distribution of observed and unobserved confounders to non-incumbents that barely lost. This provides us with a naturally occurring counterfactual exploitable for causal inference under a weaker set of assumptions than conventional regression designs commonly used in the incumbency literature. In both British and German federal elections, we find that party incumbency has a signifcant positive impact on vote shares and the probability of winning in marginal districts, the sub- population of interest for which incumbency advantage is likely to make a difference. This stands in contrast to previous more ambiguous findings.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Public Economics with number 0505009.

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Length: 56 pages
Date of creation: 19 May 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwppe:0505009

Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 56
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Web page: http://128.118.178.162

Related research

Keywords: incumbency advantage; quasi-experiment; Germany; Great Britain; elections; causal inference;

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References

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  1. Lee, David S. & Card, David, 2008. "Regression discontinuity inference with specification error," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 655-674, February.
  2. Battistin, Erich & Enrico Rettore, 2003. "Another look at the Regression Discontinuity Design," Royal Economic Society Annual Conference 2003 18, Royal Economic Society.
  3. Wolfgang Hardle & Oliver Linton, 1994. "Applied Nonparametric Methods," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1069, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  4. Angrist, Joshua D. & Krueger, Alan B., 1999. "Empirical strategies in labor economics," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 23, pages 1277-1366 Elsevier.
  5. Sandra E. Black, 1997. "Do better schools matter? Parental valuation of elementary education," Research Paper 9729, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  6. Rajeev H. Dehejia & Sadek Wahba, 1998. "Causal Effects in Non-Experimental Studies: Re-Evaluating the Evaluation of Training Programs," NBER Working Papers 6586, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. David S. Lee & Enrico Moretti & Matthew J. Butler, 2004. "Do Voters Affect Or Elect Policies? Evidence from the U. S. House," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(3), pages 807-859, August.
  8. Joshua D. Angrist & Victor Lavy, 1999. "Using Maimonides' Rule To Estimate The Effect Of Class Size On Scholastic Achievement," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(2), pages 533-575, May.
  9. Knack, Steve, 1994. " Does Rain Help the Republicans? Theory and Evidence on Turnout and the Vote," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 79(1-2), pages 187-209, April.
  10. LaLonde, Robert J, 1986. "Evaluating the Econometric Evaluations of Training Programs with Experimental Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 604-20, September.
  11. Erich Battistin & Enrico Rettore, 2002. "Testing for programme effects in a regression discontinuity design with imperfect compliance," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 165(1), pages 39-57.
  12. David S. Lee, 2001. "The Electoral Advantage to Incumbency and Voters' Valuation of Politicians' Experience: A Regression Discontinuity Analysis of Elections to the U.S..," NBER Working Papers 8441, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Florian Ade & Ronny Freier & Christian Odendahl, 2011. "Incumbency, Party Identity and Governmental Lead: Evidence for Heterogeneous Incumbency Effects for Germany," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1177, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  2. Ronny Freier, 2011. "Incumbency as the Major Advantage: The Electoral Advantage for Parties of Incumbent Mayors," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1147, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.

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