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Does Electoral Accountability Affect Economic Policy Choices? Evidence from Gubernatorial Term Limits

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  • Timothy Besley
  • Anne Case

Abstract

This paper analyzes the behavior of U. S. governors from 1950 to 1986 to investigate a reputation-building model of political behavior. We argue that differences in the behavior of governors who face a binding term limit and those who are able to run again provides a source of variation in discount rates that can be used to test a political agency model. We find evidence that taxes, spending, and other policy instruments respond to a binding term limit if a Democrat is in office. The result is a fiscal cycle in term-limit states, which lowers state income when the term limit binds.

Suggested Citation

  • Timothy Besley & Anne Case, 1995. "Does Electoral Accountability Affect Economic Policy Choices? Evidence from Gubernatorial Term Limits," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(3), pages 769-798.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:110:y:1995:i:3:p:769-798.
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.2307/2946699
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    1. Besley, Timothy & Case, Anne, 1995. "Incumbent Behavior: Vote-Seeking, Tax-Setting, and Yardstick Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(1), pages 25-45, March.
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    3. Sam Peltzman, 1992. "Voters as Fiscal Conservatives," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(2), pages 327-361.
    4. Crain, W Mark & Tollison, Robert D, 1977. "Attenuated Property Rights and the Market for Governors," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(1), pages 205-211, April.
    5. Alberto Alesina & Nouriel Roubini, 1992. "Political Cycles in OECD Economies," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 59(4), pages 663-688.
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    7. Alberto Alesina & Guido Tabellini, 1990. "A Positive Theory of Fiscal Deficits and Government Debt," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 57(3), pages 403-414.
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    10. Rogoff, Kenneth, 1990. "Equilibrium Political Budget Cycles," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 21-36, March.
    11. Stiglitz, Joseph E & Weiss, Andrew, 1983. "Incentive Effects of Terminations: Applications to the Credit and Labor Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(5), pages 912-927, December.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • H72 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Budget and Expenditures

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