When does Regression discontinuity design work? Evidence from random election outcomes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Research units

  • University of Jyväskylä
  • Stockholm University
  • VATT Institute for Economic Research
  • KU Leuven
  • London School of Economics and Political Science


We use elections data in which a large number of ties in vote counts between candidates are resolved via a lottery to study the personal incumbency advantage. We benchmark non-experimental regression discontinuity design (RDD) estimates against the estimate produced by this experiment that takes place exactly at the cutoff. The experimental estimate suggests that there is no personal incumbency advantage. In contrast, conventional local polynomial RDD estimates suggest a moderate and statistically significant effect. Bias-corrected RDD estimates that apply robust inference are, however, in line with the experimental estimate. Therefore, state-of-the-art implementation of RDD can meet the replication standard in the context of close elections.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1019-1051
Number of pages33
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

    Research areas

  • close elections, experiment, incumbency advantage, regression discontinuity design

Download statistics

No data available

ID: 27371123