Jonas Kraft

The Politics of Investment: How Policy Structure Shapes Political Priorities

Public investments in education, research, and infrastructure increase the productive capacity of future societies and generate substantial growth returns over time. Which political parties can be expected to prioritize such long-term policies? Do some types of public investments receive more political attention than others? And when do governments increase or decrease investment budgets? The purpose of this dissertation is to enhance our understanding of the political dynamics related to public investments. The dissertation discusses how best to conceptualize the investment term within the comparative political economy literature, tests existing theoretical work, and develops a new elite-based explanation of investment politics.

Based on a variety of large-N quantitative analyses, the dissertation documents that the unique temporal structure of investments and their positive effect on the economy play an important role in parties’ politicization strategies and governments’ spending decisions. These findings challenge existing theories that expect investment politics to resemble the state-market conflict we observe in traditional redistributive programs. The dissertation will be of interest to scholars and practitioners working with welfare state developments, comparative political economy, party competition, and the growing body of research scrutinizing the interplay between politics and time.

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