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Electoral and Partisan Manipulation of Public Debtin Developed Democracies

High and/or swiftly rising public-debt-to-GDP ratios (debt) became significant issues in many developed democracies in recent years. Figure 1 plots gross, consolidated, central-government debt for 21 OECD countries, 1948–97.39 Fairly commonly, debt declined dramatically from 1948–72± and equally dramatically reversed thereafter. In many countries, debt doubled or more from 1972–90; in some, it now exceeds…