Economic vote instability: Endogeneity or restricted variance? Spanish panel evidence from 2008 and 2011


  • Marta Fraile,

    Corresponding author
    1. Institute of Public Goods and Policies (CSIC), Madrid, Spain
    • Address for correspondence: Marta Fraile, Permanent Research Fellow at CSIC, Institute of Public Goods and Policies (IPP), C/Albasanz, 26–28, Madrid 28037. Spain. Tel.: +34 91 602 2946; Fax: +34 91 602 29 71; E-mail:

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  • Michael S. Lewis-Beck

    1. Department of Political Science, University of Iowa, USA
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While the economic vote exists in Western democracies, the question of its stability remains a subject of controversy. This article focuses on two possible factors behind the instability observed: the endogeneity problem and the restricted variance problem. The former concerns the influence of partisan thinking on economic perception, while the latter concerns the influence of economic crisis, when virtually all voters may perceive a bad economy. These problems are examined using panel data from the Spanish national elections of 2008 and 2011. After various causality tests, it is concluded that the economic vote was influential in both contests, but apparently less so in 2011. It is shown in the article that the initial 2011 result misleads because of the statistical artifact presented by the restricted variance problem. Thus, an alternative strategy for exogenising economic perceptions is developed using aggregate economic measures in a pooled cross-sectional design whereby it is demonstrated that the economy mattered greatly under the economic crisis of 2011. This estimation strategy could be applicable to other Western democracies experiencing such economic crisis.