Electoral Repercussions of a Pandemic: Evidence from the 2009 H1N1 Outbreak
48 Pages Posted: 9 Aug 2020 Last revised: 3 Nov 2021
Date Written: November 1, 2021
Do electorally concerned politicians have an incentive to contain epidemics when public-health interventions may have an economic cost? We revisit the first pandemic of the 21st century and study the electoral consequences of the 2009 H1N1 outbreak in Mexico. Leveraging detailed administrative data and a difference-in-differences approach, we document a statistically significant, negative effect of local epidemic outbreaks on the electoral performance of the governing party. The effect (i) is not driven by differences in containment policies; (ii) implies that the epidemic may have shifted outcomes of close electoral races; (iii) persists at least three years after the pandemic. Part of the negative impact on incumbent vote share can be attributed to a decrease in turnout, and the findings are also in line with voters learning about the effectiveness of government policies or incumbent competence.
Keywords: elections, H1N1, pandemics, retrospective voting, voting behavior
JEL Classification: D72, I18
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation