Historical Political Futures Markets: An International Perspective
Political future markets, in which investors bet on election outcomes, are often thought a recent invention. Such markets in fact have a long history in many Western countries. This paper traces the operation of political futures markets back to 16th Century Italy, 18th Century Britain, and 19th Century United States. In the United States, election betting was a common part of political campaigns in the antebellum period, but became increasingly concentrated in the organized futures markets in New York City over the postbellum period.
We thank Gianni Toniolo, Erik Snowberg, Alan Taylor, and Justin Wolfers for insights and suggestions. The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.