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Voting and the macroeconomy: separating trend from cycle

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  • John Maloney
  • Andrew Pickering

Abstract

Voters respond differently to trend growth as opposed to economic cycles in GDP. When assessing incumbent competence the rational voter filters out economic cycles when they are the product of external shocks but rewards strong trend growth over the previous term of office. Voters also respond to policy platforms, and parties closest to the median voter have an advantage à la Downs (1957). This advantage is theorized to be heightened in times of recession. Using data from elections in OECD countries and a much more exacting econometric specification than used in previous analyses we find robust evidence of a positive vote response to strong performance in trend growth. We also find evidence to support the hypothesis that centralizing garners additional votes during recession.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of York in its series Discussion Papers with number 11/14.

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Handle: RePEc:yor:yorken:11/14

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Keywords: economic voting; competence; median voter; voter rationality;

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  1. Alberto Alesina & Nouriel Roubini, 1990. "Political Cycles in OECD Economies," NBER Working Papers 3478, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Nordhaus, William D, 1975. "The Political Business Cycle," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 42(2), pages 169-90, April.
  3. Andrew Pickering & James Rockey, 2007. "Ideology and the Growth of Government," Bristol Economics Discussion Papers 07/599, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
  4. Swank, O.H., 1991. "Popularity Functions Based on the Partisan Theory," Papers 9112-g, Erasmus University of Rotterdam - Institute for Economic Research.
  5. Marianne Baxter & Robert G. King, 1995. "Measuring Business Cycles Approximate Band-Pass Filters for Economic Time Series," NBER Working Papers 5022, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Everts, Martin, 2006. "Duration of Business Cycles," MPRA Paper 1219, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. Roubini, Nouriel & Alesina, Alberto, 1992. "Political Cycles in OECD Economies," Scholarly Articles 4553025, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  8. Paldam, Martin, 1986. "The distribution of election results and the two explanations of the cost of ruling," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 5-24.
  9. Arthur F. Burns & Wesley C. Mitchell, 1946. "Measuring Business Cycles," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number burn46-1.
  10. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why Do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output per Worker than Others?," NBER Working Papers 6564, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Rosenthal, Howard & Alesina, Alberto, 1989. "Partisan Cycles in Congressional Elections and the Macroeconomy," Scholarly Articles 4553031, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  12. Bryan Caplan, 2007. "Introduction to The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies
    [The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies]
    ," Introductory Chapters, Princeton University Press.
  13. Andrew Leigh, 2009. "Does the World Economy Swing National Elections?," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 71(2), pages 163-181, 04.
  14. Anthony Downs, 1957. "An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65, pages 135.
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