Politicians’ Luck of the Draw: Evidence from the Spanish Christmas Lottery
FEDEA Working Paper No. 2011/01
21 Pages Posted: 16 Jan 2011 Last revised: 23 Jan 2014
Date Written: November 11, 2013
It is well known that incumbent politicians tend to receive more votes when economic conditions are good. In this paper we explore the source of this correlation, exploiting the exceptional evidence provided by the Spanish Christmas Lottery. This is a unique lottery: 75% of Spaniards play, sharing tickets, and every year at Christmas, 0.3% of the Spanish GDP is at stake. Winners tend to be geographically clustered because several thousand tickets sharing the same winning number are mostly sold by a single lottery outlet. These features allow us to study the impact of exogenous good economic conditions on voting behavior. Using electoral data, we find that incumbents receive significantly more votes in winning provinces. Survey information also shows that Christmas Lottery prizes increase support for the incumbent, but they do not affect respondents' assessment of the government or the opposition party. The evidence is consistent with a temporary increase in happiness making voters more lenient toward the incumbent, or with an increase in voter's preference for the status quo.
Keywords: voting behavior, randomized natural experiment, economic voting
JEL Classification: C21, D72
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation