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Separation of powers and the budget process

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  • Grossman, Gene M.
  • Helpman, Elhanan

Abstract

We study budget formation in a model featuring separation of powers. In our model, the legislature designs a budget bill that can include a cap on total spending and earmarked allocations to designated public projects. Each project provides random benefits to one of many interest groups. The legislature can delegate spending decisions to an executive agency that can observe the productivity of all projects before choosing which to fund. However, the ruling coalition in the legislature and the executive serve different constituencies, so their interests are not perfectly aligned. We consider settings that differ in terms of the breadth and overlap in the constituencies of the two branches, and associate these with the political systems and circumstances under which they most naturally arise. Earmarks are more likely to occur when the executive serves broad interests, while a binding budget cap arises when the executive's constituency is more narrow than that of the powerful legislators.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Public Economics.

Volume (Year): 92 (2008)
Issue (Month): 3-4 (April)
Pages: 407-425

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Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:92:y:2008:i:3-4:p:407-425

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578

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  1. Alberto Alesina & Roberto Perotti, 1996. "Budget Deficits and Budget Institutions," NBER Working Papers 5556, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Manuel Amador & Iván Werning & George-Marios Angeletos, 2006. "Commitment vs. Flexibility," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(2), pages 365-396, 03.
  3. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini , Guido, 1997. "Political Economics and Macroeconomic Policy," Seminar Papers 630, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
  4. Sean Gailmard, 2002. "Expertise, Subversion, and Bureaucratic Discretion," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 18(2), pages 536-555, October.
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Cited by:
  1. Thomas Braendle & Alois Stutzer, 2013. "Political selection of public servants and parliamentary oversight," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 14(1), pages 45-76, February.
  2. Olper, Alessandro & Raimondi, Valentina, 2009. "Constitutional Rules and Agricultural Policy Outcomes," Agricultural Distortions Working Paper 50304, World Bank.
  3. Leandro M. De Magalhães & Lucas Ferrero, 2009. "Budgetary Separation of Powers in the American States and the Tax Level: A Regression Discontinuity Design," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 09/225, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
  4. Krogstrup, Signe & Wyplosz, Charles, 2010. "A common pool theory of supranational deficit ceilings," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 269-278, February.
  5. Leandro De Magalhães & Lucas Ferrero, 2012. "Separation of Powers and the Size of Government in the U.S. States," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 12/285, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
  6. Krogstrup, Signe & Wyplosz, Charles, 2006. "A Common Pool Theory of Deficit Bias Correction," CEPR Discussion Papers 5866, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

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