Master of Arts (MA)


Political Science

Document Type



The political factors influencing the observed patterns of federal government debt accumulation of The United States of America are investigated. Previous research has found that the political context may condition fiscal policy and macroeconomic fluctuations; however, it remains unclear as to what political components have effects on the government debt accumulation process, and how it is impacted by these factors. Thus, this research proposes a set of questions and hypotheses that aim to understand such process, and specifically how it may be affected by partisan control of political institutions, electoral considerations, Congressional ideology and political polarization, in conjunction with economic factors. The assembled multi-source dataset consisted of quarterly observations in the post-World War II period, from 1953 until 2010.The results from statistical models indicated that debt accumulation by the U. S. federal government is the consequence of not only prevailing economic conditions but also political driving forces being primarily conditioned by electoral outcomes in the midterm and presidential elections. This study demonstrates that partisan control of political institutions is very important, and most startling, the direction of the partisan effects depended upon the political institution being controlled. Consistently, government’s reliance on debt changed meaningfully with shifts in ideology. Likewise, split partisan control of Congress significantly altered the patterns of government debt growth. However, it appeared as if divided government and polarization have not influenced the necessary cooperation for reaching negotiation agreements on debt accumulation. Overall, this research project has advanced the comprehensive understanding about the influence of politics on fiscal policy outcomes.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Hogan, Robert