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Is it all about competence? The human capital of U.S. presidents and economic performance

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  • Roger Congleton

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  • Yongjing Zhang

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Abstract

This paper explores the extent to which human capital improves the economic policy competence of US presidents. Several recent studies have used international data to test similar hypotheses. However, international studies suffer from a variety of comparability issues, not all of which can be avoided through fixed effects and error correction. The US results developed in this paper suggest that both career paths and education have significant effects on a president’s economic policy judgment, particularly in the period after the Civil War. However, the paper also suggests that more than good economic management skills are required to win national elections. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Suggested Citation

  • Roger Congleton & Yongjing Zhang, 2013. "Is it all about competence? The human capital of U.S. presidents and economic performance," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 24(2), pages 108-124, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:copoec:v:24:y:2013:i:2:p:108-124
    DOI: 10.1007/s10602-013-9138-7
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Hayo, Bernd & Voigt, Stefan, 2013. "Endogenous constitutions: Politics and politicians matter, economic outcomes don’t," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 47-61.
    2. Besley, Timothy & Reynal-Querol, Marta, 2011. "Do Democracies Select More Educated Leaders?," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 105(3), pages 552-566, August.
    3. MacRae, C Duncan, 1977. "A Political Model of the Business Cycle," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(2), pages 239-263, April.
    4. Michael D. Bordo, 1995. "The Gold Standard as a `Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval'," NBER Working Papers 5340, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Timothy Besley & Jose G. Montalvo & Marta Reynal‐Querol, 2011. "Do Educated Leaders Matter?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 121(554), pages 205-205, August.
    6. Roger Congleton, 2007. "Informational limits to democratic public policy: The jury theorem, yardstick competition, and ignorance," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 132(3), pages 333-352, September.
    7. Bordo, Michael D. & Rockoff, Hugh, 1996. "The Gold Standard as a “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approvalâ€," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 56(2), pages 389-428, June.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Anders Gustafsson, 2019. "Busy doing nothing: why politicians implement inefficient policies," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 30(3), pages 282-299, September.
    2. Gavoille, Nicolas, 2018. "Who are the ‘ghost’ MPs? Evidence from the French parliament," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 134-148.
    3. Jochimsen, Beate & Thomasius, Sebastian, 2014. "The perfect finance minister: Whom to appoint as finance minister to balance the budget," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 390-408.
    4. Abel FRANCOIS & Sophie PANEL & Laurent WEILL, 2018. "Are Some Dictators More Attractive to Foreign Investors?," Working Papers of LaRGE Research Center 2018-05, Laboratoire de Recherche en Gestion et Economie (LaRGE), Université de Strasbourg.
    5. André Schultz & Alexander Libman, 2015. "Is there a local knowledge advantage in federations? Evidence from a natural experiment," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 162(1), pages 25-42, January.
    6. Ronny Freier & Sebastian Thomasius, 2016. "Voters prefer more qualified mayors, but does it matter for public finances? Evidence for Germany," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 23(5), pages 875-910, October.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Public choice; Political business cycles; Human capital; Presidential policy; D7; E2; D9;

    JEL classification:

    • D7 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making
    • E2 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment
    • D9 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics

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