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The Democratic-Republican Presidential Growth Gap and the Partisan Balance of the State Governments

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  • Dodge Cahan
  • Niklas Potrafke

Abstract

Higher economic growth was generated during Democratic presidencies compared to Republican presidencies in the United States. The question is why. Blinder and Watson (2016) explain that the Democratic-Republican presidential growth gap (D-R growth gap) can hardly be attributed to the policies under Democratic presidents, but Democratic presidents – at least partly – just had good luck, although a substantial gap remains unexplained. A natural place to look for an explanation is the partisan balance at the state level. We show that pronounced national GDP growth was generated when a larger share of US states had Democratic governors and unified Democratic state governments. However, this fact does not explain the D-R growth gap. To the contrary, given the tendency of electoral support at the state level to swing away from the party of the incumbent president, this works against the D-R growth gap. In fact, the D-R presidential growth gap at the national level might have been even larger were it not for the mitigating dynamics of state politics (by about 0.3-0.6 percentage points). These results suggest that the D-R growth gap is an even bigger puzzle than Blinder and Watson’s findings would suggest.

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  • Dodge Cahan & Niklas Potrafke, 2017. "The Democratic-Republican Presidential Growth Gap and the Partisan Balance of the State Governments," CESifo Working Paper Series 6517, CESifo.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_6517
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    Cited by:

    1. Dorine Boumans & Klaus Gründler & Niklas Potrafke & Fabian Ruthardt, 2021. "The Global Economic Impact of Politicians: Evidence from an International Survey RCT," EconPol Working Paper 56, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.
    2. Potrafke, Niklas, 2020. "General or central government? Empirical evidence on political cycles in budget composition using new data for OECD countries," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 63(C).
    3. Oliver Bachmann & Klaus Gründler & Niklas Potrafke & Ruben Seiberlich, 2021. "Partisan bias in inflation expectations," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 186(3), pages 513-536, March.
    4. Niklas Potrafke, 2017. "Government Ideology and Economic Policy-Making in the United States," CESifo Working Paper Series 6444, CESifo.
    5. Niklas Potrafke, 2018. "Government ideology and economic policy-making in the United States—a survey," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 174(1), pages 145-207, January.
    6. Philipp Hauber & Stormy-Annika Mildner & Galina Kolev & Jürgen Matthes & Sonja Peterson & Reimund Schwarze & Christiane Lemke & Martin, Thunert & Laura von Daniels & Josef Braml & Johannes Varwick & D, 2021. "The US under Joe Biden: U-Turn or “America First Light”?," ifo Schnelldienst, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 74(01), pages 03-37, January.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Democratic-Republican GDP growth gap; federalism; partisan politics; government ideology; United States; Democrats; Republicans;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • E60 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - General
    • H00 - Public Economics - - General - - - General
    • N12 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • N42 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • P16 - Political Economy and Comparative Economic Systems - - Capitalist Economies - - - Capitalist Institutions; Welfare State

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