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The dynamics of public investment under persistent electoral advantag

  • Marina Azzimonti

    (FRB of Philadelphia)

This paper studies the effects of asymmetries in re-election probabilities across parties on public policy and its subsequent propagation to the economy. The struggle between groups that disagree on targeted transfers results in governments being endogenously short-sighted: Systematic underinvestment in infrastructure and overspending on public goods arise, beyond what is observed in symmetric environments. Because the party enjoying an electoral advantage is less short-sighted, it devotes a larger proportion of revenues to productive investment. Hence, political turnover induces economic fluctuations in an otherwise deterministic environment. I characterize analytically the long-run distribution of allocations, and show that output increases with electoral advantage, despite the fact that governments expand. Volatility is non-monotonic in electoral advantage and is an additional source of inefficiency. Using panel data from US States I confirm these findings, and show that there is an inverted U-shape relation between the volatility of public policy and electoral advantage.

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Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2012 Meeting Papers with number 91.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:red:sed012:91
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