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Fiscal deficits and executive planning horizons

  • Mike Seiferling (a1)


Executive control of government is generally not a long-term job. In such cases, relatively short executive tenure should be expected to play an important role in determining the degree to which policymakers internalize the future costs associated with their current fiscal behavior. The effects of policymaker's expected planning horizons on macroeconomic outcomes, however, have been difficult to model outside of a fixed term limit context due to the unobserved likelihood of remaining in office, along with potential endogeneity problems where re-election campaigns can be enhanced with generous, deficit-financed expenditures in election years. From a globally representative sample of 79 countries over a 32-year period (1980–2012), this paper provides empirical evidence suggesting that incumbent governments who know that will not be in office in the following period with a probability of one, are found to generate significantly higher deficits in a linear discounting model, and are found to produce the least responsible fiscal outcomes where the likelihood of re-election is around fifty percent in quadratic discounting models.


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Political Science Research and Methods
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Seiferling Dataset

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Seiferling supplementary material
Appendix A and B

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