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Political Polarization and the Size of Government


In this article, we study the relationship between political polarization and public spending using the dispersion of self-reported political preferences as our measure of polarization. Political polarization is strongly associated with smaller government in democratic countries, but there is no relationship between polarization and the size of government in undemocratic countries. The results are robust to a large set of control variables, including gross domestic product per capita and income inequality.

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Corresponding author
Erik Lindqvist is Assistant Professor, Stockholm School of Economics, P.O. Box 6501, SE-113 83 Stockholm, Sweden and Research Associate, Research Institute of Industrial Economics, P.O. Box 55665, SE-102 15 Stockholm, Sweden (
Robert Östling is Assistant Professor, Institute for International Economic Studies, Stockholm University, SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden (
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Supplementary materials

Lindqvist and Ostling supplementary material
Data set

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Supplementary materials

LINDQVIST Supplementary Material

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Supplementary materials

LINDQVIST Supplementary Material

 Excel (371 KB)
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