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Do Elections Make You Sick?

Hung-Hao Chang, Chad Meyerhoefer

NBER Working Paper No. 26697
Issued in January 2020
NBER Program(s):Health Care Program, Health Economics Program, Political Economy Program

Anecdotal reports and small-scale studies suggest that elections are stressful, and might lead to a deterioration in voters’ mental well-being. Nonetheless, researchers have yet to establish whether elections actually make people sick, and if so, why. By applying a regression discontinuity design to administrative health care claims from Taiwan, we determine that elections increased health care use and expense only during legally specified campaign periods by as much as 19%. Overall, the treatment cost of illness caused by elections exceeded publicly reported levels of campaign expenditure, and accounted for 2% of total national health care costs during the campaign period.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w26697

 
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