IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Political Cycles in Public Expenditure: Butter vs Guns

  • Vincenzo Bove


    (Department of Government, University of Essex)

  • Georgios Efthyvoulou


    (Department of Economics, University of Sheffield)

  • Antonio Navas


    (Department of Economics, University of Sheffield)

This paper presents a theoretical model and empirical evidence from 22 OECD countries to highlight how governments may use the tradeoff between social and military expenditure to advance their electoral and partisan objectives. Three basic results emerge. First, governments tend to bias outlays towards social expenditure and away from military expenditure at election times. Second, the strength of this cycle is smaller when we exclude countries involved in conflict, where national security plays an important role on voter choice. Third, while certain categories of social expenditure are higher during left administrations, military expenditure is higher during right administrations.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
File Function: Updated version, August 2014
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by The University of Sheffield, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 2013016.

in new window

Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:shf:wpaper:2013016
Contact details of provider: Postal: 9 Mappin Street, SHEFFIELD, S1 4DT
Phone: +44 114 222 3399
Fax: + 44 (0)114 222 3458
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Joshua Aizenman & Reuven Glick, 2006. "Military expenditure, threats, and growth," The Journal of International Trade & Economic Development, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 15(2), pages 129-155.
  2. Stephanie Meinhard & Niklas Potrafke, 2012. "The Globalization–Welfare State Nexus Reconsidered," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 20(2), pages 271-287, 05.
  3. W. J. Henisz, 2000. "The Institutional Environment for Economic Growth," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 12(1), pages 1-31, 03.
  4. John Paul Dunne & Eftychia Nikolaidou, 2012. "Defence Spending And Economic Growth In The Eu15," Defence and Peace Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 23(6), pages 537-548, December.
  5. Alesina, Alberto F & Roubini, Nouriel, 1990. "Political Cycles in OECD Economies," CEPR Discussion Papers 470, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. van Dalen, Hendrik P & Swank, Otto H, 1996. " Government Spending Cycles: Ideological or Opportunistic?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 89(1-2), pages 183-200, October.
  7. Francisco José Veiga & Linda Gonçalves Veiga, 2004. "Political Business Cycles at the Municipal Level," NIPE Working Papers 4/2004, NIPE - Universidade do Minho.
  8. Efthyvoulou, Georgios, 2011. "Political cycles under external economic constraints: Evidence from Cyprus," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 63(6), pages 638-662.
  9. Knight, Malcolm & Loayza, Norman & Villanueva, Delano, 1996. "The peace dividend : military spending cuts and economic growth," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1577, The World Bank.
  10. Georgios Efthyvoulou, 2010. "Political Budget Cycles in the European Union and the Impact of Political Pressures: A dynamic panel regression analysis," Birkbeck Working Papers in Economics and Finance 1002, Birkbeck, Department of Economics, Mathematics & Statistics.
  11. Potrafke, Niklas, 2009. "Political cycles and economic performance in OECD countries: empirical evidence from 1951-2006," MPRA Paper 23751, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  12. Alesina, Alberto, 1987. "Macroeconomic Policy in a Two-Party System as a Repeated Game," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 102(3), pages 651-78, August.
  13. Alejandro Saporiti & Jorge Streb, 2008. "Separation of powers and political budget cycles," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 137(1), pages 329-345, October.
  14. Galasso, Vincenzo, 2010. "The Role of Political Partisanship during Economic Crises," CEPR Discussion Papers 7834, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  15. Albalate, Daniel & Bel, Germà & Elias, Ferran, 2012. "Institutional determinants of military spending," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 279-290.
  16. Christina Schneider, 2010. "Fighting with one hand tied behind the back: political budget cycles in the West German states," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 142(1), pages 125-150, January.
  17. J Paul Dunne & Sam Perlo-Freeman & Ron P Smith, 2009. "Determining Military Expenditures: Arms Races and Spill-Over Effects in Cross-Section and Panel Data," Working Papers 0901, Department of Accounting, Economics and Finance, Bristol Business School, University of the West of England, Bristol.
  18. Anderson, T. W. & Hsiao, Cheng, 1982. "Formulation and estimation of dynamic models using panel data," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 47-82, January.
  19. Smith, Ronald P., 1980. "Military expenditure and investment in OECD countries, 1954-1973," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(1), pages 19-32, March.
  20. Richard Blundell & Steve Bond, 1995. "Initial conditions and moment restrictions in dynamic panel data models," IFS Working Papers W95/17, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  21. Vergne, Clémence, 2009. "Democracy, elections and allocation of public expenditures in developing countries," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 63-77, March.
  22. Potrafke, Niklas, 2009. "Did globalization restrict partisan politics? An empirical evaluation of social expenditures in a panel of OECD countries," Munich Reprints in Economics 19286, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  23. Alesina, Alberto, 1987. "Macroeconomic Policy in a Two-party System as a Repeated Game," Scholarly Articles 4552531, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  24. J. Paul Dunne & Sam Perlo-Freeman & Ron Smith, 2008. "The Demand For Military Expenditure In Developing Countries: Hostility Versus Capability," Defence and Peace Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(4), pages 293-302.
  25. Axel Dreher & Jan-Egbert Sturm & Heinrich Ursprung, 2006. "The Impact of Globalization on the Composition of Government Expenditures: Evidence from Panel Data," CESifo Working Paper Series 1755, CESifo Group Munich.
  26. Schuknecht, Ludger, 2000. " Fiscal Policy Cycles and Public Expenditure in Developing Countries," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 102(1-2), pages 115-30, January.
  27. Rogoff, Kenneth & Sibert, Anne, 1988. "Elections and Macroeconomic Policy Cycles," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(1), pages 1-16, January.
  28. Vincenzo Bove & Jennifer Brauner, 2011. "The Demand for Military Expenditure in Authoritarian Regimes," Birkbeck Working Papers in Economics and Finance 1106, Birkbeck, Department of Economics, Mathematics & Statistics.
  29. Raul Caruso, 2010. "Butter, Guns And Ice-Cream Theory And Evidence From Sub-Saharan Africa," Defence and Peace Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 21(3), pages 269-283.
  30. Lindbeck, Assar, 1976. "Stabilization Policy in Open Economies with Endogenous Politicians," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 66(2), pages 1-19, May.
  31. Drazen, Allan & Eslava, Marcela, 2010. "Electoral manipulation via voter-friendly spending: Theory and evidence," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(1), pages 39-52, May.
  32. J Paul Dunne & Sam Perlo-Freeman & Ron P Smith, 2008. "Determining Military Expenditures: Arms Races and Spill-Over Effects in Cross-Section and Panel Data," Discussion Papers 0801, British University in Egypt, Faulty of Business Administration, Economics and Political Science.
  33. Christos Kollias & Suzanna-Maria Paleologou, 2003. "Domestic political and external security determinants of the demand for greek military expenditure," Defence and Peace Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(6), pages 437-445.
  34. Jeroen Klomp & Jakob Haan, 2013. "Political budget cycles and election outcomes," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 157(1), pages 245-267, October.
  35. Vincenzo Bove & Elisa Cavatorta, 2012. "From Conscription To Volunteers: Budget Shares In Nato Defence Spending," Defence and Peace Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 23(3), pages 273-288, February.
  36. Roubini, Nouriel & Alesina, Alberto, 1992. "Political Cycles in OECD Economies," Scholarly Articles 4553025, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  37. Brender, Adi & Drazen, Allan, 2005. "Political budget cycles in new versus established democracies," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(7), pages 1271-1295, October.
  38. Erdal Karagol & Aziz Turhan, 2008. "External Debt, Defence Expenditures And Political Business Cycles In Turkey," Defence and Peace Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(3), pages 217-224.
  39. Eftychia Nikolaidou, 2008. "The Demand For Military Expenditure: Evidence From The Eu15 (1961-2005)," Defence and Peace Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(4), pages 273-292.
  40. Alberto Alesina & Nouriel Roubini & Gerald D. Cohen, 1997. "Political Cycles and the Macroeconomy," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262510944, June.
  41. Garrett, Geoffrey, 1995. "Capital mobility, trade, and the domestic politics of economic policy," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 49(04), pages 657-687, September.
  42. Nordhaus, William D, 1975. "The Political Business Cycle," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 42(2), pages 169-90, April.
  43. Margarita Katsimi & Vassilis Sarantides, 2010. "Do Elections Affect the Composition of Fiscal Policy?," CESifo Working Paper Series 2908, CESifo Group Munich.
  44. Todd Sandler & James C. Murdoch, 2000. "On sharing NATO defence burdens in the 1990s and beyond," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 21(3), pages 297-327, September.
  45. Axel Dreher, 2002. "Does Globalization Affect Growth?," Development and Comp Systems 0210004, EconWPA, revised 04 Feb 2003.
  46. Rosenberg, Jacob, 1992. " Rationality and the Political Business Cycle: The Case of Local Government," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 73(1), pages 71-81, January.
  47. Blais, Andre & Nadeau, Richard, 1992. " The Electoral Budget Cycle," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 74(4), pages 389-403, December.
  48. Reid, Bradford G, 1998. " Endogenous Elections, Electoral Budget Cycles and Canadian Provincial Governments," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 97(1-2), pages 35-48, October.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:shf:wpaper:2013016. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Jacob Holmes)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.