Measuring US Presidents’ Political Commitment for Fiscal Discipline Between 1920 and 2008

  • Francesc Pujol
Part of the Studies in Public Choice book series (SIPC, volume 15)


We propose a theoretical method to catch politicians' fiscal attitude concerning deficits and debt based on the analysis of the political discourse. We describe the methodological steps used to obtain it.

The methodology is applied to the case of US President during the period 1920–2008. The results can be exploited in order to better understand the formation and the evolution of fiscal preferences and their influence on fiscal performance. As the index is based on normative and positive attitudes about deficits, their analysis can show the presence of strategic political behavior, giving thus a way to test some theoretical models on budgetary political behavior.


Fiscal Policy Public Debt Political Discourse Golden Rule Balance Budget 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Data used in this chapter were collected during my stay as Visiting Researcher at The Institute for Quantitative Social Science, Harvard University. My sincere acknowledgment to its director, Jim Alt. I am also grateful to Jim Poterba, John Ferejohn, Richard Wagner, Ricardo Haussmann, Allan Drazen and Robert Y. Shapiro for their invaluable comments on the preliminary versions of this paper. A previous version of this paper was presented at the European Public Choice Society Congress, Aarhus, March 2003.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de EconomíaUniversidad de NavarraPamplonaSpain

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