Political Behavior

, Volume 36, Issue 2, pp 291–313 | Cite as

When do Economic Perceptions Matter for Party Approval?

Examining the Endogeneity of Economic Perceptions Before and During the Economic Downturn
  • Kat Chzhen
  • Geoffrey EvansEmail author
  • Mark Pickup
Original Paper


Do economic perceptions influence partisan preferences or vice versa? We argue that the direction of influence between government approval and economic perceptions is conditional on the state of the economy. Under conditions of economic crisis, when economic signals are relatively unambiguous, perceptions of the economy can be expected to exogenously influence government approval but this is not found when the economy is experiencing a more typical pattern of moderate growth and economic signals are more mixed. We test these arguments using British election panel surveys covering electoral cycles of moderate economic growth (1997–2001) and dramatic and negative disruption (2005–2010). We examine the most commonly employed measures of retrospective economic perceptions and estimate a range of models using structural equations modelling. We demonstrate that when the economy is performing extremely badly economic perceptions have an exogenous effect on government approval and provide a means of electoral accountability, but this is not the case in under more normal circumstances.


Economic perceptions Government approval Endogeneity of survey responses Impact of economic crises 

Supplementary material

11109_2013_9236_MOESM1_ESM.docx (45 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 44 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Politics and IRUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  2. 2.Nuffield CollegeUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  3. 3.Simon Fraser UniversityBurnabyCanada

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