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On the Vote Purchasing Behavior of Incumbent Governments

  • Dahlberg, M.
  • Johansson, E.

A couple of months before the Swedish election in 1998, the incumbent government distributed 2.3 billion SEK to 42 out of 115 applying municipalities. This was the first wave of a four-year long grant program intended to support local investment programs aimed at an ecological sustainable development. This temporary grant program differs from traditional intergovernmental grants in several aspects, most importantly in the sovereign decision making power given to the incumbent central government. In this paper we investigate whether there were any tactical motives behind the distribution of these grants. We find support for the hypothesis that the incumbent government used the grant program under study in order to win votes. In particular, we find strong support for the Lindbeck-Weibull/Dixit-Londregan model in which parties distribute transfers to regions where there are many swing voters. This result is statistically as well as economically significant. We do however not find any support for the model that predicts that the incumbent government transfer money to its own supporters.

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Paper provided by Uppsala - Working Paper Series in its series Papers with number 1999:24.

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Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: 1999
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fth:uppaal:1999:24
Contact details of provider: Postal: UPPSALA UNIVERSITY, DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMICS, S-751 20 UPPSALA SWEDEN.
Phone: + 46 18 471 25 00
Fax: + 46 18 471 14 78
Web page: http://www.nek.uu.se/Email:


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  1. Johansson, Eva, 1999. "Intergovernmental Grants as a Tactical Instrument: Some Empirical Evidence from Swedish Municipalities," Working Paper Series 1999:10, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  2. John Joseph Wallis, 1996. "What Determines the Allocation of National Government Grants to the States?," NBER Historical Working Papers 0090, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Lindbeck, Assar & Weibull, Jorgen W., 1993. "A model of political equilibrium in a representative democracy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 195-209, June.
  4. Levitt, Steven D & Snyder, James M, Jr, 1997. "The Impact of Federal Spending on House Election Outcomes," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(1), pages 30-53, February.
  5. Philip J. Grossman, 1987. "A Political Theory of Inter-Governmental Grants," School of Economics Working Papers 1987-06, University of Adelaide, School of Economics.
  6. Worthington, Andrew C & Dollery, Brian E, 1998. " The Political Determination of Intergovernmental Grants in Australia," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 94(3-4), pages 299-315, March.
  7. Reading, Don C., 1973. "New Deal Activity and the States, 1933 to 1939," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 33(04), pages 792-810, December.
  8. Avinash Dixit & John Londregan, 1998. "Ideology, Tactics, And Efficiency In Redistributive Politics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(2), pages 497-529, May.
  9. Wright, Gavin, 1974. "The Political Economy of New Deal Spending: An Econometric Analysis," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 56(1), pages 30-38, February.
  10. Mel Bungey & Peter Kenyon & Philip J. Grossman, 1991. "Explaining intergovernmental grants: Australian evidence," Monash Economics Working Papers archive-14, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  11. Assar Lindbeck & Jörgen Weibull, 1987. "Balanced-budget redistribution as the outcome of political competition," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 52(3), pages 273-297, January.
  12. Lin, Tsai-Fen & Schmidt, Peter, 1984. "A Test of the Tobit Specification against an Alternative Suggested by Cragg," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 66(1), pages 174-77, February.
  13. Dixit, Avinash K & Londregan, John, 1994. "The Determinants of Success of Special Interests in Redistributive Politics," CEPR Discussion Papers 1054, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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