Imai’s Paper Examines the Prevalence of Attribution Error in Economic Voting

Masami Imai

Masami Imai

Masami Imai, professor of economics, professor of East Asian studies, is the co-author of an article titled “Attribution Error in Economic Voting: Evidence from Trade Shocks,” published in the January 2015 edition of Economy Inquiry, Volume 53, Issue 1, pages 258-257.

Rosa Hayes ’13, currently a research analyst at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, also is one of the paper’s co-authors.

This article exploits the international transmission of business cycles to examine the prevalence of attribution error in economic voting in a large panel of countries from 1990 to 2009. Masami and his co-authors found that voters, on average, exhibit a strong tendency to oust the incumbent governments during an economic downturn, regardless of whether the recession is home-grown or merely imported from trading partners.

The authors also found an important heterogeneity in the extent of attribution error. A split sample analysis shows that countries with more experienced voters, more educated voters, and possibly more informed voters—all conditions that have been shown to mitigate other voter agency problems—do better in distinguishing imported from domestic growth.