Do voters respond to political parties' promises or to their past actions? We use a suitable sequence of events in Swedish politics to provide the first answer to this question. In the 1994 election campaign the Social Democrats proposed major cuts in transfers to parents with young children, whereas in the 1998 campaign they promised to increase transfers. The Social Democrats won both elections and delivered on both promises. Using voting among parents with slightly older children as counterfactual, we find that voters with young children responded markedly to economic promises rather than to implemented policies.
European Economic Review
Promises, Policies and Pocketbook Voting
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