Bertoli P., Grembi V. (2021).
The political cycle of road traffic accidents. Journal of health economics, 76, March 2021, 102435.
Road traffic accidents mean lost productivity and medical expenditures. We explain trends in traffic accidents as a function of the political cycle using municipal data from Italy. We show that during municipal election years, the accident rate increases by 1.5%, with a 2% increase in the injury rate but no effect on the fatality rate. The effects are stronger in the quarter prior to the election quarter, when the electoral campaign is at its zenith, and in the second quarter after the election for the new elected mayor. We show that this is the result of a decrease in tickets for traffic violations (rate and revenues) during election years. Our results are robustly driven by the municipal political cycle defined in different ways, and their magnitude and direction are not explained by the spillover effects between municipalities. Proximity to a national police station reduces the impact of local elections on injury rates.