Document Type

Article

Publication Date

8-2016

Publication Title

Public Choice

ISSN

1573-7101

Volume

168

Issue

3-4

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1007/s11127-016-0364-1

Abstract

Despite a vast number of articles, the political budget cycle literature contains many conflicting theories and empirical results. I conduct the first ever meta-analysis of this literature in order to establish whether a link between elections and government budgets exists. Using data on 1198 estimates across 88 studies published between 2000 and 2015, I find evidence of a statistically significant—yet substantively small—increase in government expenditures and public debt around elections, and reductions in revenues and fiscal balance. Using meta-regression analysis combined with Bayesian model averaging, I find support for some of the context-conditional theories in the literature. Although the findings of political budget cycles are robust to publication bias as well as some of the methodological- and study-specific choices authors are forced to make, they also shed light on how certain decisions may affect a study’s findings. This has implications for current and future research on political budget cycles.

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