Voter Responses to Fiscal Austerity

British Journal of Political Science, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0007123420000320

71 Pages Posted: 30 Nov 2018 Last revised: 5 Nov 2020

See all articles by Evelyne Huebscher

Evelyne Huebscher

CEU - School of Public Policy; University of Geneva - Department of Political Science and International Relations

Thomas Sattler

University of Geneva - Department of Political Science and International Relations

Markus Wagner

University of Vienna

Date Written: March 4, 2020

Abstract

Governments have great difficulties to design politically sustainable responses to rising public debt. These difficulties are grounded in a limited understanding of the popular constraints during times of fiscal pressure. For instance, an influential view claims that fiscal austerity does not entail significant political risk. But this research potentially underestimates the impact of austerity on votes because of strategic selection bias. To address this challenge, we conduct survey experiments in Spain, Portugal, Italy, the UK and Germany. Contrary to the previous literature, the results show that the reelection chances of governments decrease massively when they propose austerity measures. Voters object particularly strongly to spending cuts and, to a lesser extent, to tax increases. While voters also disapprove of fiscal deficits, they weight the costs of austerity policies more than their potential benefits for the fiscal balance. These findings are inconsistent with the policy recommendations of international financial institutions.

Keywords: fiscal policy; consolidation; deficit; voting; public spending; taxes

Suggested Citation

Huebscher, Evelyne and Sattler, Thomas and Wagner, Markus, Voter Responses to Fiscal Austerity (March 4, 2020). British Journal of Political Science, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0007123420000320, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3289341 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3289341

Evelyne Huebscher

CEU - School of Public Policy ( email )

Nador utca 9
Budapest, H-1051
Hungary

University of Geneva - Department of Political Science and International Relations ( email )

40 boulevard du Pont d'Arve
Genève 4, CH-1211
Switzerland

Thomas Sattler (Contact Author)

University of Geneva - Department of Political Science and International Relations ( email )

40 boulevard du Pont d'Arve
Genève 4, Geneve CH-1211
Switzerland

HOME PAGE: http://www.thomassattler.org

Markus Wagner

University of Vienna ( email )

Bruenner Strasse 72
Vienna, Vienna 1090
Austria

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