Comparative Politics

What's the Half-Life of the Economic Vote? (About a Year and a Half)

Jack Bailey University of Manchester


Economic voting research assumes that voters focus their attention on the recent past. Yet testing this assumption is difficult and previous research remains inconclusive. To estimate voters’ economic time frames, I specify a new model that relies on insights from the physical sciences. I show that voter myopia is real and that the economic vote is strongest when economic time frames are shortest. After around a year and a half, its effect falls by half. After seven years, it becomes practically equivalent to zero. This suggests that voters are less short-sighted than some past research suggests. Yet, there is still some cause for concern: voters’ economic time frames remain short enough that governments may receive undeserved leeway for mistakes they make early in their tenure.


Thumbnail image of econ-half-life.pdf


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