Public Choice

, Volume 150, Issue 1–2, pp 155–179 | Cite as

Political cycles and economic performance in OECD countries: empirical evidence from 1951–2006



This paper examines whether electoral motives and government ideology influence short-term economic performance. I employ data on annual GDP growth in 21 OECD countries over the 1951–2006 period and provide a battery of empirical tests. In countries with two-party systems GDP growth is boosted before elections and, under leftwing governments, in the first two years of a legislative period. These findings indicate that political cycles are more prevalent in two-party systems because voters can clearly punish or reward political parties for governmental performance. My findings imply that we need more elaborate theories of how government ideology and electoral motives influence short-term economic performance.


Political cycles Partisan politics Electoral motives Government ideology Short-term economic performance Panel data 

JEL Classification

D72 O57 C23 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of KonstanzKonstanzGermany

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