Electoral cycles and environmental cooperation, an event study on elections and environmental agreements

  • Jonas Werth (Student)

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


How does political competition impact the ability of countries to successfully coordinate their trans-national efforts to fight environmental externalities? As the international community increasingly relies on environmental agreements, it is crucial to explore this side effect of democratic systems and the implications it has on pressing challenges like climate change and environmental pollution. In this thesis project, I use multiple existing data sources to construct a dataset that merges information on the ratification of environmental agreements, political term lengths, election dates, and party-level data on environmental preferences for 36 OECD countries between 1975 and 2017. With this dataset, I perform an event study on the likelihood of ratification before, and after the election. Furthermore, I investigate if changes in pro-environmentalism between incumbents and successors foster electoral cycles. I find a significant impact of the electoral calendar on the likelihood of ratification for environmental agreements. Further,there is strong evidence that newly elected governments with stronger environmental preferences drive electoral cycles, but the impact is heterogeneous for different periods after the election. While newly elected green governments tend to ratify agreements shortly after the election, reelected incumbents postpone ratification further into the new term. This study contributes to the research field of environmental economics and the broader field of political economy by empirically testing for a mechanism through which electoral competition has negative spillovers on environmental cooperation and the provision of global public goods. In addition, the dataset can be used as a foundation for future research on questions surrounding the formation of environmental agreements.
Date of Award15 Oct 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Universidade Católica Portuguesa
SupervisorAlessia Russo (Supervisor) & Even Comfort Hvinden (Co-Supervisor)


  • International environmental agreements
  • Electoral cycles
  • Political economy
  • Event study
  • Survival analysis


  • Mestrado em Economia

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