Voting and the economic cycle

John Maloney, Andrew Pickering

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sophisticated voters assess incumbent competence by …filtering out economic cycles (which they do not like) from trend growth (which they do). Naive voters on the other hand respond only to raw economic growth. This implies that voting in aggregate should respond asymmetrically to the economic cycle. Upswings are rewarded by the naive, but punished by the sophisticated. Downswings are punished by all voters. Using an established dataset of over 400 general elections we …find that the incumbent vote share a) responds differently to trend growth than to the cycle, b) does not respond significantly to positive variation in the economic cycle, and c) responds significantly and negatively to negative realizations in the economic cycle. In contrast to standard formulations of the ‘'grievance asymmetry' this asymmetric vote response is found to be independent of trend growth.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-133
Number of pages15
JournalPublic Choice
Issue number1-2
Early online date10 Oct 2014
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2015


  • Economic voting
  • Competence
  • Political knowledge
  • Asymmetric voting

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