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Election Results and Opportunistic Policies: A New Test of the Rational Political Business Cycle Model

The literature on the rational political business cycle suggests that politicians systematically manipulate economic and fiscal conditions before elections to increase their chance of gaining reelection. Most tests of this theory look for evidence of pre- election distortions in fiscal policy. We propose a new test that, instead, explores the implied two-way interaction between the magnitude of the opportunistic distortion and the margin of victory. The test is implemented using a panel of 278 Portuguese municipalities (from 1979 to 2005). The results show that (1) opportunism pays off, leading to a larger win-margin for the incumbent; (2) incumbents behave more opportunistically when their win-margin is small. These results are consistent with the theoretical model.

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File URL: http://www.econ.cam.ac.uk/research/repec/cam/pdf/cwpe0934.pdf
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Paper provided by Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge in its series Cambridge Working Papers in Economics with number 0934.

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Date of creation: 24 Sep 2009
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Handle: RePEc:cam:camdae:0934
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.econ.cam.ac.uk/index.htm

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  1. Allan Drazen & Marcela Eslava, 2005. "Electoral Manipulation via Expenditure Composition: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 11085, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  19. Frey, Bruno S & Schneider, Friedrich, 1978. "An Empirical Study of Politico-Economic Interaction in the United States," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 60(2), pages 174-83, May.
  20. Galli, Emma & Rossi, Stefania P S, 2002. " Political Budget Cycles: The Case of the Western German Lander," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 110(3-4), pages 283-303, March.
  21. Per Pettersson-Lidbom, 2001. "An Empirical Investigation of the Strategic Use of Debt," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(3), pages 570-583, June.
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