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The Political Budget Cycle is Where You Can't See It: Transparency and Fiscal Manipulation

James E. Alt and David Lassen ()
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James E. Alt: Department of Government, Harvard University

No 05-03, EPRU Working Paper Series from Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics

Abstract: We investigate the effects of fiscal transparency and political polarization on the prevalence of electoral cycles in fiscal balance. The recent political economy literature on electoral cycles identifies such cycles mainly in weak and recent democracies. In contrast, we show, conditioning on a new index of institutional fiscal transparency, that electoral cycles in fiscal balance are a feature also of advanced industrialized economies. Using a sample of nineteen OECD countries in the 1990’s, we identify a persistent pattern of electoral cycles in low(er) transparency countries, while no such cycles can be observed in high(er) transparency countries. Furthermore, we find, in accordance with recent theory, that electoral cycles are larger in more politically polarized countries.

Keywords: fiscal transparency; political polarization; fiscal policy; budget deficits; political budget cycles; electoral policy cycles (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D72 E62 H62 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 28 pages
Date: 2005-03
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-mac and nep-pol
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