IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

The road to power: partisan loyalty and the centralized provision of local infrastructure

  • Marcelin Joanis


Because they yield durable and visible benefits to voters, public infrastructure expenditures are an attractive instrument for politicians to build enduring electoral support in their constituencies. Static models of special-interest politics typically predict that public spending should be targeted at swing voters, at the expense of voters who display strong partisan loyalty. Yet static theories are not well-suited to capture the implications of long-run relationships between political parties and their loyal supporters. To address this limitation, I set out a simple dynamic probabilistic voting model in which a government allocates a fixed budget across electoral districts that differ in their loyalty to the ruling party. The model predicts that the contemporaneous geographic pattern of spending depends on the way the government balances long-run ‘machine politics’ considerations with the more immediate concern to win over swing voters. To assess the empirical relevance of both forces, I analyze rich data on road spending from a panel of electoral districts in Québec. Empirical results exploiting the province’s linguistic fragmentation provide robust evidence that partisan loyalty is a key driver of the geographic allocation of spending, in contrast with the standard ‘swing voter’ view.

(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by Springer in its journal Public Choice.

Volume (Year): 146 (2011)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 117-143

in new window

Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:146:y:2011:i:1:p:117-143
Contact details of provider: Web page:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Kevin Milligan & Michael Smart, 2005. "Regional Grants as Pork Barrel Politics," CESifo Working Paper Series 1453, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Tim Besley & Ian Preston, 2007. "Electoral bias and policy choice: theory and evidence," IFS Working Papers W07/06, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  3. Stephen Coate & Marco Battaglini, 2005. "Inefficiency in Legislative Policy-Making: A Dynamic Analysis," 2005 Meeting Papers 209, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  4. Olivier Cadot & Lars-Hendrik Röller & Andreas Stephan, 2004. "Contribution to Productivity or Pork Barrel?: The Two Faces of Infrastructure Investment," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 458, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  5. Valentino Larcinese & James M. Snyder (Jr.) & Cecilia Testa, 2006. "Testing models of distributive politics using exit polls to measure voter preferences and partisanship," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 3605, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  6. Persson, Torsten & Roland, Gérard & Tabellini, Guido, 1997. "Comparative Politics and Public Finance," CEPR Discussion Papers 1737, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Alesina, Alberto, 1988. "Credibility and Policy Convergence in a Two-Party System with Rational Voters," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(4), pages 796-805, September.
  8. Dahlberg, M. & Johansson, E., 1999. "On the Vote Purchasing Behavior of Incumbent Governments," Papers 1999:24, Uppsala - Working Paper Series.
  9. Lindbeck, Assar & Weibull, Jorgen W., 1993. "A model of political equilibrium in a representative democracy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 195-209, June.
  10. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1999. "Political Economics and Public Finance," CEPR Discussion Papers 2235, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Anne Case, 1997. "Election Goals and Income Redistribution: Recent Evidence From Albania," Working Papers 227, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Research Program in Development Studies..
  12. David Stromberg, 2008. "How the Electoral College Influences Campaigns and Policy: The Probability of Being Florida," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 769-807, June.
  13. Timothy Besley, 2007. "The New Political Economy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(524), pages F570-F587, November.
  14. Knight, Brian, 2004. "Parochial interests and the centralized provision of local public goods: evidence from congressional voting on transportation projects," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(3-4), pages 845-866, March.
  15. Valentino Larcinese & Leonzio Rizzo & Cecilia Testa, 2005. "Allocating the US Federal Budget to the States: the Impact of the President," STICERD - Political Economy and Public Policy Paper Series 03, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  16. Adi Brender & Allan Drazen, 2004. "Political Budget Cycles in New versus Established Democracies," NBER Working Papers 10539, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. 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, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(3), pages 807-859.
  18. Anthony Downs, 1957. "An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65, pages 135.
  19. Allan Drazen & Marcela Eslava, 2006. "Pork Barrel Cycles," NBER Working Papers 12190, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. 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, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(3), pages 807-859.
  21. Assar Lindbeck & Jörgen Weibull, 1987. "Balanced-budget redistribution as the outcome of political competition," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 52(3), pages 273-297, January.
  22. Timothy Besley & Ian Preston, 2007. "Electoral Bias and Policy Choice: Theory and Evidence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(4), pages 1473-1510.
  23. Snyder, James M, 1989. "Election Goals and the Allocation of Campaign Resources," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(3), pages 637-60, May.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:146:y:2011:i:1:p:117-143. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sonal Shukla)

or (Christopher F. Baum)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.