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Government spending and re-election: Quasi-experimental evidence from Brazilian municipalities

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  • Stephan Litschig
  • Kevin Morrison

Abstract

Does additional government spending improve the electoral chances of incumbent political parties? This paper provides the first quasi-experimental evidence on this question. Our research design exploits discontinuities in federal funding to local governments in Brazil around several population cutoffs over the period 1982-1985. We show that extra fiscal transfers resulted in a 20% increase in local government spending per capita, and an increase of about 10 percentage points in the re-election probability of local incumbent parties. In the context of an agency model of electoral accountability, as well as existing results indicating that the revenue jumps studied here had positive impacts on education outcomes and earnings, these results suggest that expected electoral rewards encouraged incumbents to spend additional funds in ways that were valued by voters.

Suggested Citation

  • Stephan Litschig & Kevin Morrison, 2010. "Government spending and re-election: Quasi-experimental evidence from Brazilian municipalities," Economics Working Papers 1233, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Jun 2012.
  • Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:1233
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Florian Ade & Ronny Freier, 2011. "When Can We Trust Population Thresholds in Regression Discontinuity Designs?," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1136, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    2. Tiago Cisalpino Pinheiro & Marcelo Araújo Castro, 2016. "Fiscal Federalism And Electoral Choice In Brazilian Municipalities," Anais do XLIII Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 43rd Brazilian Economics Meeting] 071, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pósgraduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].
    3. Castro, Marcelo Araújo & Mattos, Enlinson & Patriota, Fernanda, 2016. "Spatial spillovers and political coordination in public health provision," Textos para discussão 417, FGV/EESP - Escola de Economia de São Paulo, Getulio Vargas Foundation (Brazil).
    4. Dey, Subhasish & Sen, Kunal, 2016. "Is Partisan Alignment Electorally Rewarding? Evidence from Village Council Elections in India," IZA Discussion Papers 9994, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Nico Voigtländer & Hans-Joachim Voth, 2014. "Highway to Hitler," ECON - Working Papers 156, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
    6. Felix Arnold & Ronny Freier, 2013. "Signature Requirements and Citizen Initiatives: Quasi-Experimental Evidence from Germany," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1311, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    7. Felix Arnold & Ronny Freier, 2015. "Signature requirements and citizen initiatives: Quasi-experimental evidence from Germany," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 162(1), pages 43-56, January.
    8. Andrew C. Eggers & Ronny Freier & Veronica Grembi & Tommaso Nannicini, 2015. "Regression Discontinuity Designs Based on Population Thresholds: Pitfalls and Solutions," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1503, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    9. Labonne, Julien, 2013. "The local electoral impacts of conditional cash transfers," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 73-88.
    10. Maria Teresa Balaguer-Coll & María Isabel Brun-Martos & Anabel Forte & Emili Tortosa-Ausina, 2014. "Determinants of local governments'­ reelection: New evidence based on a Bayesian approach," Working Papers 2014/06, Economics Department, Universitat Jaume I, Castellón (Spain).
    11. Fuchs, Alan & Rodriguez-Chamussy, Lourdes, 2014. "Voter response to natural disaster aid : quasi-experimental evidence from drought relief payments in Mexico," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6836, The World Bank.
    12. Laura Bianchini & Federico Revelli, 2013. "Green Polities: Urban Environmental Performance and Government Popularity," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 25(1), pages 72-90, March.
    13. Marcelo Araújo Castro, 2016. "Using A Quasi-Experiment To Identify The Effects Of Education Spending On School Quality," Anais do XLIII Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 43rd Brazilian Economics Meeting] 221, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pósgraduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].
    14. Balaguer-Coll, Maria Teresa & Brun-Martos, María Isabel & Forte, Anabel & Tortosa-Ausina, Emili, 2015. "Local governments' re-election and its determinants: New evidence based on a Bayesian approach," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 94-108.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Government spending; voting; regression discontinuity.;

    JEL classification:

    • H40 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - General
    • H72 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Budget and Expenditures
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

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