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

  • Stephan Litschig
  • Kevin Morrison

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.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra in its series Economics Working Papers with number 1233.

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Date of creation: Jun 2010
Date of revision: Jun 2012
Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:1233
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  1. Franceso Caselli & Guy Michaels, 2009. "Do Oil Windfalls Improve Living Standards? Evidence from Brazil," OxCarre Working Papers 028, Oxford Centre for the Analysis of Resource Rich Economies, University of Oxford.
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  8. 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.
  9. Birdsall, Nancy, 1985. "Public inputs and child schooling in Brazil," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 67-86.
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  12. Albert Solé-Ollé & Pilar Sorribas-Navarro, 2008. "Does partisan alignment affect the electoral reward of intergovernmental transfers?," Working Papers 2008/2, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
  13. Claudio Ferraz & Frederico Finan, 2008. "Exposing Corrupt Politicians: The Effects of Brazil's Publicly Released Audits on Electoral Outcomes," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(2), pages 703-745.
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