Public Choice

, Volume 166, Issue 1–2, pp 235–259 | Cite as

Political business cycles 40 years after Nordhaus

  • Eric DuboisEmail author
Literature Survey


The aim of this article is to survey the huge literature that has emerged in the last four decades following Nordhaus’s (Rev Econ Stud 42(2):169–190, 1975) publication on political business cycles (PBCs). I first propose some developments in history of thought to examine the context in which this ground-breaking contribution saw the light of the day. I also present a simplified version of Nordhaus’s model to highlight his key results. I detail some early critiques of this model and the fields of investigations to which they gave birth. I then focus on the institutional context and examine its influence on PBCs, the actual research agenda. Finally, I derive some paths for future research.


Political business cycles Politico-economic cycles Electoral cycles Opportunistic cycles Conditional political business cycles 

JEL Classification

B22 D72 D78 E32 



I thank William F. Shughart II and the anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CESUniversité de Paris 1Paris Cedex 13France

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