Scientific article
Open access

The politics of fiscal policy during economic downturns, 1981-2010

Published inEuropean journal of political research, vol. 54, no. 1, p. 1-22
Publication date2015

ThisarticleinvestigatesfiscalpolicyresponsestotheGreatRecessioninhistoricalperspective.It explores general trends in the frequency, size and composition of fiscal stimulus as well as the impact of government partisanship on fiscal policy outputs during the four international recessions of 1980–1981, 1990–1991, 2001–2002 and 2008–2009. Encompassing 17–23 Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, the analysis calls into question the idea of a general retreat from fiscal policy activism since the early 1980s. The propensity of governments to respond to economic downturns by engaging in fiscal stimulus has increased over time and no secular trend in the size of stimulus measures is observed. At the same time, OECD governments have relied more on tax cuts to stimulate demand in the two recessions of the 2000s than they did in the early 1980s or early 1990s. Regarding government partisanship, no significant direct partisan effects on either the size or the composition of fiscal stimulus is found for any of the four recession episodes. However, the size of the welfare state conditioned the impact of government partisanship in the two recessions of the 2000s, with left-leaning governments distinctly more prone to engaging in discretionary fiscal stimulus and/or spending increases in large welfare states, but not in small welfare states.

  • Fiscal policy
  • Business cycle
  • Government partisanship
  • Welfare state
Citation (ISO format)
RAESS, Damian, PONTUSSON, Harry Jonas. The politics of fiscal policy during economic downturns, 1981-2010. In: European journal of political research, 2015, vol. 54, n° 1, p. 1–22. doi: 10.1111/1475-6765.12074
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal0304-4130

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