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Do Parties Matter for Economic Outcomes? A Regression-Discontinuity Approach

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  • Per Pettersson-Lidbom

Abstract

A long-standing issue in political economics is to what extent party control makes a difference in determining fiscal and economics policies. This question is very difficult to answer empirically because parties are not randomly selected to govern political entities. This article uses a regression-discontinuity design, namely, party control changes discontinuously at 50% of the vote share, which can produce "near" experimental causal estimates of the effect of party control on economic outcomes. The method is applied to a large panel data set from Swedish local governments with a number of attractive features. The results show that there is an economically significant party effect: Left-wing governments spend and tax 2-3% more than right-wing governments. Left-wing governments also have 7% lower unemployment rates, which is partly due to that left-wing governments employ 4% more workers than right-wing governments. (JEL: C21, D72, D78, H71, H72) (c) 2008 by the European Economic Association.

Suggested Citation

  • Per Pettersson-Lidbom, 2008. "Do Parties Matter for Economic Outcomes? A Regression-Discontinuity Approach," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 6(5), pages 1037-1056, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:jeurec:v:6:y:2008:i:5:p:1037-1056
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C21 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation
    • H71 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • H72 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Budget and Expenditures

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