Do political factors influence public health expenditures? Evidence pre- and post-great recession

  • Héctor Bellido
  • Lorena Olmos
  • Juan Antonio Román-Aso
Original Paper


This paper analyses whether government ideology and other political- and electoral-related factors influence country-level public healthcare expenditures, focussing on the impact of the Great Recession on that relationship. We test this hypothesis for the OECD countries in 1970–2016. Our results reveal the presence of a partisan effect, left-wing governments being more likely to raise public expenditures in the health sector. We also find that coalitions increase these expenditures, whilst minority governments and those with a high presence in the lower house decrease them. Meanwhile, the opportunistic behaviour of incumbents related to the timing of elections is not supported by our results. The percentage of public expenditures over total health expenditures is also examined, obtaining similar results regarding the partisan effect. However, the onset of the Great Recession has altered these relationships, neutralizing the impact of political factors.


Public health care expenditures Government ideology Panel data Partisan effect Political cycles 

JEL Classification

H51 I18 D72 C23 



The authors acknowledge the financial support of the Regional Government of Aragon and the European Fund of Regional Development (CASSETEM research group, project S-124; Population Economy, Job Market and Industrial Economy research group, Grant S32_17R), and Universidad San Jorge.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Economic AnalysisUniversity of ZaragozaZaragozaSpain
  2. 2.San Jorge UniversityZaragozaSpain

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