Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

The Bright Side of the Economic Crisis: The Attribution of Political Responsibilities in Hard Times

  • Guillermo Cordero (a1) and Ignacio Lago (a2)

We examine the impact of the current economic crisis on the accuracy of responsibility attribution between levels of government within states. Using individual-level data from Spain, we show that learning about responsibility attribution depends on the saliency of the issue (in our study, unemployment) and economic self-interest. The (unintended) positive consequence of economic crisis is that citizens are now more able to accurately attribute the responsibility for political decisions than some years ago. Learning is particularly significant among those individuals more affected by the economic crisis.


Nous analysons l'impact de la crise économique actuelle sur l'attribution de la responsabilité aux différents niveaux de gouvernements dans des États. Selon des données individuelles d'enquêtes espagnoles, nous démontrons que l'attribution correcte des responsabilités dépend de la prépondérance du sujet en question (dans notre étude, le chômage) et de l'intérêt économique de chacun. La conséquence (non intentionelle) de la crise économique est qu'aujourd'hui les citoyens sont capables d'attribuer de manière plus précise la responsabilité des décisions politiques qu'il y a quelques ans. L'apprentissage est encore plus grand entre les individus les plus touchés par la crise économique.

Corresponding author
Department of Political Science, University of Madrid, Office 6. Edificio de Ciencias Jurídicas, Marie Curie 1, 28049–Madrid, email:
Department of Political Science, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Office 20.108. Edifici Jaume I, Ramon Trias Fargas 25-27, 08005–Barcelona, email:
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Cameron A. Anderson 2006. “Economic voting and multilevel governance: A Comparative Individual-Level Analysis.” American Journal of Political Science 50: 449–63.

Christopher J. Anderson 2007a. “The End of Economic Voting? Contingency Dilemmas and the Limits of Democratic Accountability.” Annual Review of Political Science 10: 271–96.

Alin M. Ceobanu and Xavier Escandell . 2010. “Comparative Analyses of Public Attitudes toward Immigrants and Immigration Using Multinational Survey Data: A Review of Theories and Research.” Annual Review of Sociology 36: 309–28.

Gary W. Cox 1997. Making Votes Count. Strategic Coordination in the World's Electoral Systems. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Fred Cutler . 2004. “Government Responsibility and Electoral Accountability in Federations.” Publius: The Journal of Federalism 34: 1938.

Raymond M. Duch , Harvey D. Palmer and Christopher J. Anderson . 2000. “Heterogeneity in Perceptions of National Economic Conditions.” American Journal of Political Science 44: 635–52.

Raymond Duch and Randolph Stevenson . 2013. “Voter Perceptions of Agenda Power and Attribution of Responsibility for Economic Performance.” Electoral Studies 32: 512–16.

Raymond Duch , Wojtek Przepiorka and Randolph Stevenson . 2015. “Responsibility Attribution for Collective Decision Makers.” American Journal of Political Science 59: 372–89.

M. Escobar-Lemmon 2003. “Political Support for Decentralization: An Analysis of the Colombian and Venezuelan Legislatures.” American Journal of Political Science 47: 683–97.

Glenn Firebaugh . 1997. Analyzing Repeated Surveys. Sage University Paper Series on Quantitative Applications in the Social Sciences. Series/Number 07–115. Thousand Oaks: Sage.

Marta Fraile . 2014. “Do Women Know Less About Politics Than Men? The Gender Gap in Political Knowledge in Europe.Social Politics. Published online. Doi: 10.1093/sp/jxu006

Carolyn L. Funk 2000. “The Dual Influence of Self-Interest and Societal Interest in Public Opinion.” Political Research Quarterly 53: 3762.

Brad T. Gomez and J. Matthew Wilson . 2001. “Political Sophistication and Economic Voting in the American Electorate: A Theory of Heterogeneous Attribution.” American Journal of Political Science 45: 899914.

Sarah B. Hobolt and James Tilley . 2014. “Who's in Charge? How Voters Attribute Responsibility in the European Union.” Comparative Political Studies 47: 795819.

Sara B. Hobolt , James Tilley and J. Wittrock . 2014. “Listening to the Government: How Information Shapes Responsibility Attributions.” Political Behavior 35: 153174.

Ignacio Lago and Santiago Lago . 2010. “Decentralization and Electoral Accountability.” Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy: 28: 318–34.

Richard R. Lau and Caroline Heldman . 2009. “Self-Interest, Symbolic Attitudes, and Support for Public Policy: A Multilevel Analysis.” Political Psychology 30: 513–37.

Richard R. Lau and David P. Redlawsk . 2009. “Older but Wiser? Effects of Age on Political Cognition.The Journal of Politics 70 (1): 168–85.

Sandra León . 2010. “Who is Responsible for What? Clarity of Responsibilities in Multilevel States: The Case of Spain.” European Journal of Political Research 50: 80109.

S. León 2012. “How do Citizens Attribute Responsibility in Multilevel States? Learning, Biases and Asymmetric Federalism. Evidence from Spain.” Electoral Studies 31: 120–30.

Cora J. Mass and Joop J. Hox . 2004. “Robustness Issues in Multilevel Regression Analysis.” Statistica Neerlandica 58: 127–13.

G. Bingham Powell Jr., and Guy Whitten . 1993. “A Cross-national Analysis of Economic Voting: Taking Account of the Political Context.” American Journal of Political Science 37: 391–41.

Thomas J. Rudolph 2003a. “Institutional Context and the Assignment of Political Responsibility.” Journal of Politics 65: 190215.

Thomas J. Rudolph 2003b. “Who's Responsible for the Economy? The Formation and Consequences of Responsibility Attributions.American Journal of Political Science 47: 698713.

Margit Tavits and Taavi Annus . 2006. “Learning to Make Votes Count: The Role of Democratic Experience.” Electoral Studies 25: 7290.

James Tilley and Sarah B. Hobolt . 2011. “Is the Government to Blame? An Experimental Test of How Partisanship Shapes Perceptions of Performance and Responsibility.” The Journal of Politics 73: 115.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Canadian Journal of Political Science/Revue canadienne de science politique
  • ISSN: 0008-4239
  • EISSN: 1744-9324
  • URL: /core/journals/canadian-journal-of-political-science-revue-canadienne-de-science-politique
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 5
Total number of PDF views: 23 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 138 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 21st September 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.