Quarterly Journal of Political Science > Vol 7 > Issue 3

Targeted Government Spending and Political Preferences

Cristian Pop-Eleches, 1Department of Economics, Columbia University, USA, cp2124@columbia.edu , Grigore Pop-Eleches, Department of Politics, Princeton University, USA, gpop@princeton.edu
Suggested Citation
Cristian Pop-Eleches and Grigore Pop-Eleches (2012), "Targeted Government Spending and Political Preferences", Quarterly Journal of Political Science: Vol. 7: No. 3, pp 285-320. http://dx.doi.org/10.1561/100.00011017

Publication Date: 19 Jun 2012
© 2012 C. Pop-Eleches and G. Pop-Eleches
Comparative politics,  Political participation,  Public opinion,  Elections


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In this article:
Contributions to the Literature on Government Spending and Pocketbook Voting 
The Euro 200 Program: Research Design and Political Context 
Empirical Strategy 


This article addresses the question of whether incumbents can buy political support through targeted public spending. Using a regression discontinuity approach which takes advantage of the design of a recent Romanian government program that distributed coupons worth 200 Euros to poor families towards the purchase of a computer, we find that program beneficiaries were significantly more likely to support the parties of the incumbent governing coalition. These effects occurred both through higher political mobilization and through party-switching. The article also analyzes the drivers of such political gains and we find that program beneficiaries did not trust either the central government or the governing parties any more than the control group. Instead, it appears that local governments reaped the benefits of increased trust, and the political support for incumbent parties occurred mostly in towns where the local government was controlled by one of the parties of the national ruling coalition.