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Municipal elections and cultural expenditure


The aim of this paper is to analyze the effect of electoral timing on municipal public cultural spending. We use a panel sample of all municipalities from the Spanish Region of Murcia for 1995–2008. Our results reveal that mayors adopt an opportunistic behavior, increasing cultural spending in the election year and reducing it in the second year after the election. We also investigate whether the electoral cycle in cultural spending is influenced by mayors’ ideology, political strength, willingness to run for re-election, and electoral competitiveness. In this regard, our study shows that when mayors expect close elections, political budget cycles’ size is greater. Concerning political leadership, the magnitude of the electoral cycle is influenced by mayors’ political ideology rather than mayors’ political strength and re-election willingness. Additionally, we seek to shed some light on the determinants of public cultural spending. We find that income and upper-level governments’ transfers have a positive impact on cultural spending. Finally, unemployment, young people’s proportion and elderly people’s proportion negatively influence cultural spending.

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Fig. 1
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  1. 1.

    Source: Spanish Ministry of Culture database.

  2. 2.

    See Baltagi (2001).

  3. 3.

    Elections dates: in May 1995, June 1999, May 2003 and May 2007. Elections were always held on the same day for all municipalities.



Political budget cycles


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This study has benefited from the financial support of the Spanish National R & D Plan through the research projects ECO2010-17463 and ECO2010-20522 (Ministry of Science and Innovation).

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Correspondence to Bernardino Benito.

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Benito, B., Bastida, F. & Vicente, C. Municipal elections and cultural expenditure. J Cult Econ 37, 3–32 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10824-012-9175-5

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  • Electoral cycles
  • Cultural spending
  • Local governments

JEL Classification

  • H76