Montréal (Québec) H3T 1N8
Dr. Lucy Barnes (University College London)
Fiscal Policy Preferences in Hard Times: Government Borrowing and Public Opinion
For over a decade, the issue of government borrowing has been central to political debate on the economy. The increased salience of government borrowing has important consequences for the political economy of fiscal policy, and requires new understandings of voters’ economic policy preferences. In this talk I explore (1) when voters pay attention to government borrowing, and what their views about it are (2) the consequences of high salience government borrowing for voter preferences over fiscal policy more generally; and (3) the implications of these dynamics for partisan competition. In short: voters do not like borrowing, but their attention to it is malleable and politically endogenous. When borrowing is more salient, voters respond with an asymmetric move towards accepting spending cuts more readily than tax increases. Left parties are disadvantaged by their association with generous spending programmes. This talk draws on previous publications and new evidence focused on the UK case in comparative perspective. It is based on joint work with Timothy Hicks.
This series is sponsored by the Centre for the Study of Democratic Citizenship, which is funded by the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Société et culture (FRQSC).