Public Choice

, Volume 162, Issue 3–4, pp 263–285 | Cite as

How do elections affect international cooperation? Evidence from environmental treaty participation

  • Antoine Cazals
  • Alexandre Sauquet


Is there a strategically beneficial time for political leaders to make international environmental commitments? Based on the political cycles theory, we argue that leaders have incentives to delay costly ratification of international environmental agreements to the post-electoral period. However, the cost of participating in these agreements is often lower for developing countries, and they may enjoy indirect advantages, which may make them more prone to ratifying in the pre-electoral period. These hypotheses are assessed empirically by studying the ratification process of 41 global environmental agreements censused in the Environmental Treaties and Resources Indicators’ database from 1976 to 1999. We use a duration model in which time is measured on a daily basis, enabling us to precisely identify pre- and post-electoral periods—a significant challenge in political cycles studies. Our investigation reveals the existence of political ratification cycles that are of substantial magnitude and non-linear over the pre- and post-electoral years.


International environmental agreements Political cycles Ratification Duration model 

JEL Classification

C41 F53 H41 Q53 Q56 



We are indebted to the Editor in Chief of this journal, William F. Shughart II, for his valuable comments. We would also like to thank Beth Simmons, Friedrich Schneider, Christian de Perthuis, Per Fredriksson, Simon Dietz, Alain Trannoy, Anne Viallefont, Laurent Wagner, Samuel Guérineau, and Marielle Brunette, as well as the participants of the 2014 ADRES conference, the 2013 EPCS, EAERE, AFSE annual meeting, the 2012 ENRMDTE conference, and the participants of the Laboratory of Economic Forestry, CERDI, and Climate Economic Chair seminars for their insightful comments. This paper benefited from the financial support of the FERDI (Fondation pour les Etudes et Recherches sur le Développement International) and of the program “Investissement d’Avenir” (reference ANR-10-LABX-14-01) of the French government. Alexandre Sauquet would also like to thank the “Conseil Regional d’Auvergne” for its financial support. The usual disclaimers apply.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches sur le Développement International (CERDI), CNRS, UMR 6587Clermont Université, Université d’AuvergneClermont-FerrandFrance

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