Is it All About Competence? The Human Capital of U.S. Presidents and Economic Performance
Vassar College - Department of Economics
Roger D. Congleton
West Virginia University - Department of Economics; George Mason University - Center for Study of Public Choice; George Mason University - Department of Economics
September 1, 2009
In this paper, we attempt to determine whether a president’s job experience affects his or her effectiveness in office. Several studies link national economic performance with the party of the president and Congress. Several others have argued that past economic performance is a factor in voter decisions, especially among independents, to vote for or against incumbent office holders; indeed, economists and political scientists often argue that it is the best single predictor of success in presidential elections (Alesina and Rosenthal 1995, 1978). If these studies are taken seriously, a useful index of the competence of U.S. presidents is the extent to which they, on average, achieve good macroeconomic results.
Perhaps surprisingly, given these significant literatures, we have not seen any studies that explore how the competence of individual presidents is affected by human capital (job experience) or how difference components of human capital affect real GNP/GDP growth. Our study attempts to fill this gap in the literature.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 23
Keywords: competence, presidential politics, human capital, economic growth
JEL Classification: d70working papers series
Date posted: September 30, 2010
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