Cabinet Durability and Fiscal Discipline

David Fortunato, Matt W. Loftis

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


We argue that short government durations in parliamentary democracies increase public spending by driving a political budget cycle. We present a revision of the standard political budget cycle model that relaxes the common (often implicit) assumption that election timing is fixed and known in advance. Instead, we allow cabinets to form expectations about their durability and use these expectations to inform their spending choices. The model predicts that (1) cabinets should spend more as their expected term in office draws to a close and (2) cabinets that outlive their expected duration should run higher deficits. Using data from 15 European democracies over several decades, we show that governments increase spending as their expected duration withers and run higher deficits as they surpass their forecasted life expectancy.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Political Science Review
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)939-953
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018
Externally publishedYes

Cite this