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Incumbency Effects in German and British Elections: A Quasi- Experimental Approach

Author

Listed:
  • Jens Hainmueller

    (Harvard University)

  • Holger Lutz Kern

    (Cornell University)

Abstract

Following the recent turn towards quasi-experimental approaches in the US literature on the incumbency advantage (Lee, 2001; Lee, forthcoming), we employ a Regression Discontinuity Design (RDD) to identify the causal effects of party incumbency in British and German post-World War II elections. The RDD framework exploits the randomized variation in incumbency status that occurs when a district race is close. Based on the assumption that parties do not exert perfect control over their observed vote shares, incumbents that barely won a race should be similar in their distribution of observed and unobserved confounders to non-incumbents that barely lost. This provides us with a naturally occurring counterfactual exploitable for causal inference under a weaker set of assumptions than conventional regression designs commonly used in the incumbency literature. In both British and German federal elections, we find that party incumbency has a signifcant positive impact on vote shares and the probability of winning in marginal districts, the sub- population of interest for which incumbency advantage is likely to make a difference. This stands in contrast to previous more ambiguous findings.

Suggested Citation

  • Jens Hainmueller & Holger Lutz Kern, 2005. "Incumbency Effects in German and British Elections: A Quasi- Experimental Approach," Public Economics 0505009, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwppe:0505009
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Ade, Florian & Freier, Ronny & Odendahl, Christian, 2014. "Incumbency effects in government and opposition: Evidence from Germany," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 117-134.
    2. Ronny Freier, 2011. "Incumbency as the Major Advantage: The Electoral Advantage for Parties of Incumbent Mayors," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1147, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    3. Florian Ade & Ronny Freier & Christian Odendahl, 2011. "Incumbency, Party Identity and Governmental Lead: Evidence for Heterogeneous Incumbency Effects for Germany," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1177, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    4. Freier, Ronny, 2015. "The mayor's advantage: Causal evidence on incumbency effects in German mayoral elections," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 40(PA), pages 16-30.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    incumbency advantage; quasi-experiment; Germany; Great Britain; elections; causal inference;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D6 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics
    • D7 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making
    • H - Public Economics

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