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Political Parties and Macroeconomic Policy


  • Hibbs, Douglas A.


This study examines postwar patterns in macroeconomic policies and outcomes associated with left-and right-wing governments in capitalist democracies. It argues that the objective economic interests as well as the subjective preferences of lower income and occupational status groups are best served by a relatively low unemployment-high inflation macroeconomic configuration, whereas a comparatively high unemployment-low inflation configuration is compatible with the interests and preferences of upper income and occupational status groups. Highly aggregated data on unemployment and inflation outcomes in relation to the political orientation of governments in 12 West European and North American nations are analyzed revealing a low unemployment-high inflation configuration in nations regularly governed by the Left and a high unemployment-low inflation pattern in political systems dominated by center and rightist parties. Finally, time-series analyses of quarterly postwar unemployment data for the United States and Great Britain suggests that the unemployment rate has been driven downward by Democratic and Labour administrations and upward by Republican and Conservative governments. The general conclusion is that governments pursue macroeconomic policies broadly in accordance with the objective economic interests and subjective preferences of their class-defined core political constituencies.

Suggested Citation

  • Hibbs, Douglas A., 1977. "Political Parties and Macroeconomic Policy," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 71(4), pages 1467-1487, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:apsrev:v:71:y:1977:i:04:p:1467-1487_26

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