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Politicians and soft budget constraints


  • Dalen, Dag Morten

    () (BI Norwegian School of Management)

  • Moen, Espen R.

    (BI Norwegian School of Management)

  • Riis, Christian

    (BI Norwegian School of Management)


We study soft budget constraints from the perspective of political economics. A partly partisan government confronts a budget crisis in a politically important sector, e.g. like the health care sector. To what extent the government wants to make additional grants to the sector depends on economic conditions and on the preferences of the government, both unknown to the electorate. Thus, the government’s budget response gives a signal of its preferences, and may thereby influence the probability that the government is re-elected. As a result, the handeling of a budget crisis becomes inefficient even from an ex post point of view, in the sense that it does not react adequately to changing economic conditions.

Suggested Citation

  • Dalen, Dag Morten & Moen, Espen R. & Riis, Christian, 2009. "Politicians and soft budget constraints," HERO On line Working Paper Series 2001:2, Oslo University, Health Economics Research Programme.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:oslohe:2001_002

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Christian Schultz, 1996. "Polarization and Inefficient Policies," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 63(2), pages 331-344.
    2. Qian, Yingyi & Roland, Gerard, 1998. "Federalism and the Soft Budget Constraint," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(5), pages 1143-1162, December.
    3. M. Dewatripont & E. Maskin, 1995. "Credit and Efficiency in Centralized and Decentralized Economies," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 62(4), pages 541-555.
    4. János Kornai, 2014. "The soft budget constraint," Acta Oeconomica, Akadémiai Kiadó, Hungary, vol. 64(supplemen), pages 25-79, November.
    5. In-Koo Cho & David M. Kreps, 1987. "Signaling Games and Stable Equilibria," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 102(2), pages 179-221.
    6. Cukierman, Alex & Tommasi, Mariano, 1998. "When Does It Take a Nixon to Go to China?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 180-197, March.
    7. Swank, Otto H., 1998. "Towards an economic theory of party ideology," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 223-240, May.
    8. Harrington, Joseph E, Jr, 1993. "Economic Policy, Economic Performance, and Elections," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(1), pages 27-42, March.
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    More about this item


    Political economics; budget constraints; budget crisis;

    JEL classification:

    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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