Simply a Matter of Luck & Looks? Predicting Elections When Both the World Economy and the Psychology of Faces Count

48 Pages Posted: 9 Jul 2014

See all articles by Harry Garretsen

Harry Garretsen

Utrecht University - School of Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute); Radboud University Nijmegen - Department of Economics

Janka Stoker

University of Groningen

Rob J. M. Alessie

University of Groningen; Netspar; Tilburg University - Center for Economic Research (CentER)

Joris Lammers

Tilburg University

Date Written: June 25, 2014

Abstract

Economic research shows that candidates have a higher chance of getting (re-)elected when they have the luck that the world economy does well even though this is beyond their control and unrelated to their competence. Psychological research demonstrates that candidates increase their chances if they have the right looks, a facial characteristic that is also unrelated to a politician’s actual policies. We combine these two strands of literature by assessing the relative strength of luck and looks. Moreover, we take the moderating effect of the electoral system into account. Using a sample of 196 elections for 44 countries between 1979-1999, results show that looks matter only in majority systems whereas luck ceases to be relevant at all. Economic competence does matter in representative systems. These results hold after controlling for the interaction of luck, looks and competence with variables that proxy for the cross-country variation in the well-informedness of voters.

Keywords: elections, economics, economic growth, psychology, faces, electoral systems

JEL Classification: H30, E60

Suggested Citation

Garretsen, Harry and Stoker, Janka and Alessie, Rob J. M. and Lammers, Joris, Simply a Matter of Luck & Looks? Predicting Elections When Both the World Economy and the Psychology of Faces Count (June 25, 2014). CESifo Working Paper Series No. 4857, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2463588

Harry Garretsen (Contact Author)

Utrecht University - School of Economics ( email )

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CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

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Radboud University Nijmegen - Department of Economics ( email )

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+31 24 361 1846 (Fax)

Janka Stoker

University of Groningen ( email )

P.O. Box 800
9700 AH Groningen, Groningen 9700 AV
Netherlands

Rob J. M. Alessie

University of Groningen ( email )

P.O. box 800
9700 AV Groningen
Netherlands
050-3637240 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://members.chello.nl/~r.j.m.alessie

Netspar

P.O. Box 90153
Tilburg, 5000 LE
Netherlands

HOME PAGE: http://www.netspar.nl

Tilburg University - Center for Economic Research (CentER)

P.O. Box 90153
Tilburg, 5000 LE
Netherlands

Joris Lammers

Tilburg University ( email )

P.O. Box 90153
Tilburg, DC Noord-Brabant 5000 LE
Netherlands

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