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Simply a Matter of Luck & Looks? Predicting Elections when Both the World Economy and the Psychology of Faces Count

Harry Garretsen, Janka I. Stoker, Rob Alessie and Joris Lammers

No 4857, CESifo Working Paper Series from CESifo Group Munich

Abstract: Economic research shows that candidates have a higher chance of getting (re-)elected when they have the luck that the world economy does well even though this is beyond their control and unrelated to their competence. Psychological research demonstrates that candidates increase their chances if they have the right looks, a facial characteristic that is also unrelated to a politician’s actual policies. We combine these two strands of literature by assessing the relative strength of luck and looks. Moreover, we take the moderating effect of the electoral system into account. Using a sample of 196 elections for 44 countries between 1979-1999, results show that looks matter only in majority systems whereas luck ceases to be relevant at all. Economic competence does matter in representative systems. These results hold after controlling for the interaction of luck, looks and competence with variables that proxy for the cross-country variation in the well-informedness of voters.

Keywords: elections; economics; economic growth; psychology; faces; electoral systems (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: H30 E60 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2014
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