Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Paper Series,
IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy

No 2008:3: Is there an election cycle in public employment? Separating time effects from election year effects

Matz Dahlberg () and Eva Mörk ()
Additional contact information
Matz Dahlberg: IFAU - Institute for Labour Market Policy Evaluation, Postal: Box 513, SE-751 20 Uppsala, Sweden
Eva Mörk: IFAU - Institute for Labour Market Policy Evaluation, Postal: Box 513, SE-751 20 Uppsala, Sweden

Abstract: Do governments increase public employment in election years? This paper investigates this question by using data from Sweden and Finland, two countries that are similar in many respects but in which local elections are held at different points in time. We can thereby separate an election effect from other time effects. Our results indicate that there is a statistically significant election year effect in local public employment, a production factor that is highly visible in the welfare services provided by the local governments in the Scandinavian countries. The effect also seems to be economically significant; the municipalities employ 0.6 more full-time employees per 1,000 capita in election years than in other years (which correspond to an increase by approximately 1 percent).

Keywords: Election cycle; public employment; exogenous elections

JEL-codes: D72; H72; P16

25 pages, March 10, 2008

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