Canadian Journal of Political Science

Party, Ideology, and Deficits: Provincial Fiscal Policy and the Cameron Thesis, 1966–2009

Christopher A. Simona1 c1 and Raymond Tatalovicha2 c2

a1 University of Utah

a2 Loyola University Chicago

Abstract

In a 1985 publication David Cameron reported that historically leftist governments had governed with smaller deficits than rightist governments. The party ideology variable was incorporated into a large body of subsequent research, mainly by economists, to study the growth of public spending and indebtedness. Most agreed with Cameron; some did not. Virtually all studies focused on western European nations (but not subnational governments). This study analyzes provincial deficits or surpluses over the period 1966 to 2009 and determines that rightist parties, despite controls for economic and other political variables, have lower budgetary deficits, a finding which contradicts Cameron but is consistent with five previous studies of provincial spending in Canada.

Résumé

Dans une publication 1985, David Cameron a indiqué que les gouvernements de gauche historiquement avaient gouverné avec des déficits plus faibles que les gouvernements de droite. La variable de l'idéologie du parti a été intégrée dans un vaste corpus de recherches ultérieures, principalement par les économistes pour étudier la croissance des dépenses publiques et de l'endettement. La plupart étaient d'accord avec Cameron, d'autres pas; pratiquement toutes les études ont porté sur les pays d'Europe occidentale (mais pas les gouvernements infranationaux). Cette étude analyse les déficits ou les excédents provinciaux au cours de la période 1966–2009 et détermine que les partis de droite, malgré les contrôles pour les variables politiques, économiques et autres, ont des déficits budgétaires inférieurs, une conclusion qui contredit Cameron, mais est compatible avec cinq études antérieures sur les dépenses provinciales au Canada.

Correspondence

c1 Department of Political Science, University of Utah, 260 S. Central Campus Drive, Orson Spencer Hall Room 252, Salt Lake City, UT 84112. Email: simon@cppa.utah.edu

c2 Department of Political Science, Loyola University Chicago, 1032 West Sheridan Road, Coffey Hall 315, Chicago, IL 60660. Email: rtatalo@luc.edu

Footnotes

  This research was subsidized by an award under the 2010–2011 Faculty Research Grant Program, and we wish to acknowledge and express our thanks to the Embassy of Canada in Washington DC and particularly Dan Abele, Head, Research and Academic Relations. We thank Professor Nicholas P. Lovrich, Washington State University, for his very insightful comments and thorough review of our work. Special thanks to Dr. Stephen Tapp, Research Director, Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP), Montreal, Quebec, Canada, for the use of his fiscal rules indices.

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