Political Leaders' Socioeconomic Background and Fiscal Performance in Germany
Joint Discussion Paper Series in Economics No. 41-2011
47 Pages Posted: 17 Oct 2011 Last revised: 11 Dec 2014
Date Written: October 7, 2011
This paper investigates whether the socioeconomic status of the head of government helps explain fiscal performance. Applying sociological research that attributes differences in people’s ways of thinking and acting to their relative standing within society, we test whether the social status of German prime ministers can help explain differences in fiscal performance among the German Laender. Our empirical findings show that the tenures of prime ministers from a poorer socioeconomic background are associated with higher levels of public spending and debt financing. Social mobility has an asymmetric influence: social climbers adapt to their new class, whereas downwardly mobile prime ministers remain primarily influenced by their parents’ upper-class status.
Keywords: leadership, socioeconomic status, fiscal policy, public spending, public deficit
JEL Classification: E61, E62, H11, H72
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