Political Business Cycles and Expenditure Policies in Developing Countries


Ludger Schuknecht

Publication Date:

October 1, 1994

Disclaimer: This Working Paper should not be reported as representing the views of the IMF.The views expressed in this Working Paper are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent those of the IMF or IMF policy. Working Papers describe research in progress by the author(s) and are published to elicit comments and to further debate


The paper studies empirically fiscal policies around elections in 35 developing countries. It finds that governments try to improve their reelection prospects with the help of expansionary expenditure policies. Rising fiscal deficits before elections are followed by fiscal consolidation afterwards. These cycles can be found particularly in countries which are less trade-oriented or which pursue fixed exchange rate policies. Certain IMF-supported programs (SAF/ESAF and EFF arrangements) contribute to fiscal stabilization, but they do not appear to affect the incidence of fiscal cycles. The paper concludes that policy advice and macroeconomic projections should not overlook election constraints, and political feasibility of reforms should be strengthened particularly before elections.


Working Paper No. 1994/121



Publication Date:

October 1, 1994



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