DP4489 How Elections Matter: Theory and Evidence from Environmental Policy

Author(s): John List, Daniel M Sturm
Publication Date: July 2004
Keyword(s): elections, environmental policy, lobbying, term limits
JEL(s): D72, H72
Programme Areas: Public Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=4489

In this Paper we explore to what extent secondary policy issues are influenced by electoral incentives. We develop a political agency model in which a politician decides on both a frontline policy issue, such as the level of public spending, and a secondary policy issue, such as environmental policy. The model shows under which conditions the incumbent finds it worthwhile to manipulate the secondary policy to attract additional votes to their platform. We test the predictions of the model using state-level panel data on Gubernatorial environmental policy choices over the years 1960-2000. In contrast to the popular view that choices on secondary policy instruments are largely determined by lobbying, we find strong effects of electoral incentives on environmental policy.