Seminar Series

How Incumbent Politicians Respond to the Enactment of a Programmatic Policy: Evidence from Snow Subsidies

Thursday, 23 June 2022 | 9:00 - 10:00 (JST)
Zoom Webinar
  • Amy Catalinac Assistant professor of Department of Politics, New York University
  • Kenneth Mori McElwain Professor, Institute of Social Science, The University of Tokyo
Event Description

More than fifty studies have examined the programmatic incumbent support hypothesis, which posits that once enacted, programmatic policies increase electoral support for the incumbent. Despite the careful attention to causal inference in this work, empirical findings have been strikingly inconsistent. We make the case that these inconsistent results are likely explained by incumbents’ strategic responses to the enactment of a programmatic policy. Specifically, incumbents have good reasons to distribute different amounts of non-programmatic goods to voters who do and do not receive a programmatic policy. To examine this conjecture, we turn to the case of Japan, where municipalities receive allocations of non-programmatic goods and vary in their eligibility for a programmatic policy (a snow subsidy) according to factors that are plausibly exogenous to voting behavior. Using a geographic regression discontinuity design, we find that municipalities receiving the programmatic policy receive systematically more non-programmatic goods than municipalities that do not.

About the Speaker

Amy Catalinac is an Assistant Professor of Politics at New York University. She is a scholar of electoral systems, distributive politics, and contemporary Japanese politics. She earned her Ph.D. at Harvard University. Her first project examined how electoral systems influence politicians’ policy priorities and ideological positions. This research appears in the American Political Science Review, Journal of Politics, and in her first book, Electoral Reform and National Security in Japan (Cambridge University Press). Her second project examines how lawmakers use geographically-targeted spending to increase their re-election chances. This research appears in World Politics, Comparative Political Studies, and Electoral Studies.