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Politicians' Luck of the Draw: Evidence from the Spanish Christmas Lottery

  • Manuel Bagues
  • Berta Esteve-Volart

It is well known that incumbent politicians tend to receive more votes when economic conditions are good. In this paper we explore the source of this correlation, exploiting the exceptional evidence provided by the Spanish Christmas Lottery. This is a unique lottery: 75% of Spaniards play, sharing tickets, and every year at Christmas 0.3% of the Spanish GDP is at stake. Because winning tickets are mostly sold by one lottery outlet, winners tend to be geographically clustered. These features allow us to study the impact of exogenous good economic conditions on voting behavior. We find that incumbents receive significantly more votes in winning provinces. Given that individuals are well aware of the random nature of the shock, it is unlikely that this effect is due to voters wrongly attributing economic conditions to the government. Moreover, information from surveys from the same period shows that Christmas Lottery prizes increase the propensity to vote for the incumbent, but they do not affect respondents' assessment of the government. The evidence is consistent with a temporary increase in happiness making voters more lenient toward the incumbent, or with a stronger preference for the status quo.

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Paper provided by FEDEA in its series Working Papers with number 2011-01.

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Date of creation: Jan 2011
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Handle: RePEc:fda:fdaddt:2011-01
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  1. Wolfers, Justin, 2002. "Are Voters Rational? Evidence from Gubernatorial Elections," Research Papers 1730, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  2. Eric J. Brunner & Stephen L. Ross & Ebonya L. Washington, 2008. "Economics and Ideology: Causal Evidence of the Impact of Economic Conditions on Support for Redistribution and Other Ballot Proposals," NBER Working Papers 14091, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Bénédicte H. Apouey & Andrew E. Clark, 2014. "Winning big but feeling no better? The effect of lottery prizes on physical and mental health," PSE Working Papers halshs-00566789, HAL.
  4. Weber, Roberto & Camerer, Colin F. & Knez, Marc, 1996. "The Illusion of Leadership," Working Papers 992, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  5. Mikael Lindahl, 2005. "Estimating the Effect of Income on Health and Mortality Using Lottery Prizes as an Exogenous Source of Variation in Income," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(1).
  6. Apouey, Bénédicte & Clark, Andrew E., 2010. "Winning Big but Feeling No Better? The Effect of Lottery Prizes on Physical and Mental Health," IZA Discussion Papers 4730, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Kuhn, Peter J. & Kooreman, Peter & Soetevent, Adriaan R. & Kapteyn, Arie, 2010. "The Effects of Lottery Prizes on Winners and their Neighbors: Evidence from the Dutch Postcode Lottery," IZA Discussion Papers 4950, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. repec:pse:psecon:2009-09 is not listed on IDEAS
  9. Javier Gardeazabal, 2010. "Vote Shares in Spanish General Elections as a Fractional Response to the Economy and Conflict," Economics of Security Working Paper Series 33, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  10. Zeelenberg, Marcel & Pieters, Rik, 2004. "Consequences of regret aversion in real life: The case of the Dutch postcode lottery," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 93(2), pages 155-168, March.
  11. Nattavudh Powdthavee & Paul Dolan, Robert Metcalfe, 2008. "Electing Happiness: Does Happiness Effect Voting and do Elections Affect Happiness," Discussion Papers 08/30, Department of Economics, University of York.
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