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Run for your life? The effect of close elections on the life expectancy of politicians


  • Borgschulte, Mark
  • Vogler, Jacob


We estimate the causal effect of election to political office on natural lifespan using a regression discontinuity design and a novel dataset of winning and losing candidates for US governor, senator, and House representative. We find that candidates gain over a year of life from winning a close election. The effect is strongest for governors, and has grown larger over the course of US history. We also examine the effect of stress experienced in office, finding that serving in more challenging situations is not associated with reduced lifespan.

Suggested Citation

  • Borgschulte, Mark & Vogler, Jacob, 2019. "Run for your life? The effect of close elections on the life expectancy of politicians," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 167(C), pages 18-32.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:167:y:2019:i:c:p:18-32
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2019.09.003

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    More about this item


    Mortality; Status; Longevity; Stress; Politicians; Regression discontinuity;

    JEL classification:

    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • M12 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - Personnel Management; Executives; Executive Compensation
    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination


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