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  • Cited by 6
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    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Bak, Daehee 2016. Political Investment Cycles in Democracies and Autocracies. International Interactions, p. 1.

    Dubois, Eric 2016. Political business cycles 40 years after Nordhaus. Public Choice, Vol. 166, Issue. 1-2, p. 235.

    CANES-WRONE, BRANDICE and PARK, JEE-KWANG 2012. Electoral Business Cycles in OECD Countries. American Political Science Review, Vol. 106, Issue. 01, p. 103.

    Grier, Kevin 2008. US presidential elections and real GDP growth, 1961–2004. Public Choice, Vol. 135, Issue. 3-4, p. 337.

    Liargovas, Panagiotis and Manolas, George 2007. Do Conservative Governments Make a Difference in Fiscal Policy? Evidence from the U.S. and the U.K.. Journal of Economic Issues, Vol. 41, Issue. 3, p. 863.

    Leblang, David and Mukherjee, Bumba 2005. Government Partisanship, Elections, and the Stock Market: Examining American and British Stock Returns, 1930-2000. American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 49, Issue. 4, p. 780.


Electoral Incentives, Political Business Cycles and Macroeconomic Performance: Empirical Evidence from Post-War US Personal Income Growth

  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 January 2005

Conventional wisdom suggests that macroeconomic outcomes do not follow a political business cycle (PBC) pattern. In this study, the nature of the electoral underpinnings of such opportunistic behaviour are investigated by analysing alternative formulations of PBC theory: (1) a naïve-unconditional PBC, (2) an electoral security-conditional PBC, (3) an electoral uncertainty-conditional PBC; and (4) a partisan-conditional PBC. Data on the US real personal income growth rate for the 1948:1–2000:4 quarterly period reveals support for both naïve-unconditional and partisan-conditional PBCs, yet rejects an electoral cycle attributable to the incumbent administration's ex ante re-election prospects. Simulation analysis reveals that while Democratic administrations enjoy higher income growth than Republican counterparts for non pre-election stimulus periods, Republican presidents are associated with larger pre-election economic expansions than Democratic presidents consistent with a partisan-conditional PBC theoretical model. This finding supports the notion that incumbent governments engage in partisan-based policy balancing with respect to the creation of opportunistic electoral cycles in real macroeconomic activity. On a broader level, these statistical findings provide strong support for adaptive models of the electoral cycle that emphasize partisan differences while refuting the policy neutrality proposition and rational-competence models predicated on the extent to which an incumbent administration experiences electoral vulnerability.

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British Journal of Political Science
  • ISSN: 0007-1234
  • EISSN: 1469-2112
  • URL: /core/journals/british-journal-of-political-science
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