Electoral Turnovers

51 Pages Posted: 21 Feb 2022 Last revised: 26 Feb 2022

See all articles by Benjamin Marx

Benjamin Marx

Sciences Po - Department of Economics

Vincent Pons

Harvard University - Business School (HBS)

Vincent Rollet

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: February 2022


In most national elections, voters face a key choice between continuity and change. Electoral turnovers occur when the incumbent candidate or party fails to win reelection. To understand how turnovers affect national outcomes, we study the universe of presidential and parliamentary elections held since 1945. We document the prevalence of turnovers over time and we estimate their effects on economic performance, trade, human development, conflict, and democracy. Using a close-elections regression discontinuity design (RDD) across countries, we show that turnovers improve country performance. These effects are not driven by differences in the characteristics of challengers, or by the fact that challengers systematically increase the level of government intervention in the economy. Electing new leaders leads to more policy change, it improves governance, and it reduces perceived corruption, consistent with the expectation that recently elected leaders exert more effort due to stronger reputation concerns.

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Suggested Citation

Marx, Benjamin and Pons, Vincent and Rollet, Vincent, Electoral Turnovers (February 2022). NBER Working Paper No. w29766, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4039485

Benjamin Marx (Contact Author)

Sciences Po - Department of Economics ( email )

28, rue des Saints peres
Paris, 75007

Vincent Pons

Harvard University - Business School (HBS) ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Morgan 270C
Boston, MA 02163
United States

Vincent Rollet

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) ( email )

77 Massachusetts Avenue
50 Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
United States

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