Political economy of austerity

My PhD thesis focused on the political economy of fiscal austerity in OECD countries and Canadian provinces. Most research suggests that governments can impose cutbacks without seeing their popularity decrease, and that by implementing austerity, governments can reorient their expenditures towards more productive investments.

I argue that this view is mistaken and show that austerity reduces governments’ popularity and encourages them to prioritize public policies that are profitable in the short term, to the detriment of longer-term investments.


Jacques, Olivier and Lukas Haffert. 2021. “Paying the Price of Austerity? Shedding a New Light on an Old Question.” European Political Science Review. 13(2): 189-207. 

Jacques, Olivier. 2021. “Austerity and the path of least resistance : how fiscal consolidations crowd out long term investments.” Journal of European Public Policy. 28(4): 551-570.

Jacques, Olivier. 2020."Partisan priorities under fiscal constraints in Canadian provinces." Canadian Public Policy/Analyse de Politiques

Working paper

Jacques, Olivier. “Welfare state regimes and social policy resilience to austerity.”


Governing for the long-term

Under which conditions do governments implement policies that are beneficial in the long-term? This project highlights the effect of electoral competition, political institutions, and austerity to explain why governments adopt a long-term rather than short-term perspective. It focuses mostly on preventive health care as a long-term investment. 


Jacques, Olivier and Alain Noël. Forthcoming. "The politics of public health investments." Social Science & MedicineWorking paper available here

Jacques, Olivier. 2021. “The Electoral Politics of Long-term Investments.”Party Politics

Working papers

Ammi, Mehdi, Emmanuelle Arpin, Olivier Jacques and Alain Noël. "The partisan and fiscal determinants of public health spending in Canadian provinces."


Welfare states, inequality and population health

This project revisits classical questions in comparative welfare state research: does the paradox of redistribution, stating that universalism entails more redistribution and poverty reduction than targeting (Korpi and Palme 1998), still holds in the 21st century. How do we combine the political legitimacy and institutional solidity of a universal welfare state with the redistributive efficiency of targeted programmes?

Furthermore, the project investigates the effect of social policies and income inequality on population health.


Jacques, Olivier and Alain Noël. Forthcoming. “Welfare State Decommodification and Population Health.” Plos One.​

Jacques, Olivier and Alain Noël. 2021. "Targeting Within Universalism." Journal of European Social Policy. 31(1): 15-29.

Jacques, Olivier and Alain Noël. 2018. "The case for welfare state universalism, or the lasting relevance of the paradox of redistribution" Journal of European Social Policy. 28(1): 70-85


Public opinion towards fiscal policies

This research agenda concerns the relationship between fiscal policies and public opinion in several different projects.

In collaboration with Chris Abbott, Elizabeth Goodyear-Grant, Kyle Hanniman and Scott Matthews, I have fielded a survey experiment assessing if the growing tendency of central banks to comment on government fiscal policy affects voters’ policy preferences. 

I am studying citizens' willingness to pay taxes in OECD countries, in a sole project exploring the role of class and education and in a project with David Weisstanner focus on the effect of economic conditions of tax preferences. 

Finally, I am studying Canadians' preferences regarding budget deficits (with Éric Bélanger) and towards fiscal federalism (with Daniel Béland and André Lecours).


Jacques, Olivier, Daniel Béland and André Lecours. 2021. "Fiscal Federalism, Social Identity and Place-Based Resentment." Regional Studies.

Jacques, Olivier and Éric Bélanger. Forthcoming. "Deficit or Austerity Bias? The Changing Nature of Canadians' Opinion of Fiscal Policies." Canadian journal of Political Science

Working papers

Jacques, Olivier. “Political Coalitions and Willingness to Pay Taxes.” Under review. Working paper available here.

Jacques, Olivier and David Weisstanner. "Economic Stagnation and Tax Policy Preferences". Working paper available here.

Abbott, Chris, Elizabeth Goodyear-Grant, Kyle Hanniman, Olivier Jacques and Scott Matthews “Stimulus or Austerity? How Central Banks Can Change Citizen’s Preferences.”


Policy choices in Canadian provinces

I made several contributions to the study of Canadian politics by bringing in comparative political economy perspective to understand policy choices in the country.

I show that Québec’s distinct party system is one of the main reasons why it is the only province with a universal childcare system. 

I confirm that political discretion exists in project allocation in Canada: districts represented by a government MP receive more infrastructure funding than opposition districts.

I explain why levels of taxes in Canada are relatively low, but quite progressive from a comparative perspective. 

I studied the determinants of the share of income allocated to the top 1% in Québec. 

I am currently working on the social policy preferences of the CAQ government, explaining a conservative party's move towards the center.  


Jacques, Olivier and Benjamin Ferland. 2021. “Political discretion in infrastructure spending in Canada”. Canadian Journal of Political science. 54(1): 96-117.

Jacques, Olivier. 2020. “Funding the state: taxation in Canada from a comparative politics perspective.” In E. Heaman et D. Tough (eds.) Who Pays for Canada, Taxation and Fairness. McGill Queen’s University Press. 58-89

Arsenault, Gabriel, Olivier Jacques and Antonia Maioni. 2018. “Services de garde subventionnés: pourquoi le Québec continue-t-il de faire cavalier seul.” Institute for Research in Public Policy study. Study no 67.

Zorn, Nicolas, and Olivier Jacques. 2017. “Under the Rising Wave. How Disaggregated Revenue Sources Can Tell Another Story for Québec’s Top Income Share.” Journal of Income Distribution. 25 (1). 1-25

Working paper

Daniel Béland, Shannon Dinan, Olivier Jacques and Patrick Marier. "Policy Feedback and the Partisan Politics of Social Policy in Quebec." Working paper available here.