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The economic effects of direct democracy—a first global assessment

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  • Lorenz Blume
  • Jens Müller
  • Stefan Voigt

    ()

Abstract

This is the first study that assesses the economic effects of direct democratic institutions on a cross country basis. Its results are based on up to six new measures produced to reflect the legislative basis for using direct democratic institutions as well as their factual use. In addition, a more general overall indicator is used. On the basis of these two different data sets only some of the results of the former intra-country studies are confirmed. An analysis based on the more general democracy index for 87 countries shows that a higher degree of direct democracy leads to lower budget deficits and higher government effectiveness. The effects on government expenditure, corruption and productivity have the expected signs but do not reach conventional levels of significance. A more fine grained analysis for a cross section of 88 countries based on the second data set shows that institutional detail matters a great deal. In particular, the mere possibility of drawing on direct-democratic institutions is often not sufficient to induce significant effects whereas the frequency of their factual use has a number of substantive effects on economic variables.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Springer in its journal Public Choice.

Volume (Year): 140 (2009)
Issue (Month): 3 (September)
Pages: 431-461

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Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:140:y:2009:i:3:p:431-461

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Web page: http://www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=100332

Related research

Keywords: Direct democracy; Economic effects of constitutions; Positive constitutional economics;

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References

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  17. Matthias Benz & Alois Stutzer:, . "Are Voters Better Informed When They Have a Larger Say in Politics? Evidence for the European Union and Switzerland," IEW - Working Papers 119, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Bjørnskov, Christian & Dreher, Axel & Fischer, Justina AV, 2008. "Formal Institutions and Subjective Well-Being: Revisiting the Cross-Country Evidence," Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 699, Stockholm School of Economics.
  2. Christian Bjørnskov & Martin Paldam, 2012. "The spirits of capitalism and socialism," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 150(3), pages 469-498, March.
  3. Katarzyna Metelska-Szaniawska, 2009. "Constitutions and economic reforms in transition: an empirical study," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 20(1), pages 1-41, March.
  4. Dostie, Benoit & Dupré, Ruth, 2012. "“The people's will”: Canadians and the 1898 referendum on alcohol prohibition," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 49(4), pages 498-515.
  5. Friedrich Schneider & Désirée Teobaldelli, 2012. "Beyond the Veil of Ignorance: The Influence of Direct Democracy on the Shadow Economy," CESifo Working Paper Series 3749, CESifo Group Munich.
  6. Simon Hug, 2009. "Some thoughts about referendums, representative democracy, and separation of powers," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 20(3), pages 251-266, September.
  7. Gebhard Kirchgässner, 2010. "Direkte Demokratie," University of St. Gallen Department of Economics working paper series 2010 2010-26, Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen.
  8. Voigt, Stefan, 2011. "Empirical constitutional economics: Onward and upward?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 80(2), pages 319-330.
  9. Stefan Voigt, 2011. "Positive constitutional economics II—a survey of recent developments," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 146(1), pages 205-256, January.
  10. Désirée Teobaldelli & Friedrich Schneider, 2013. "The Influence of Direct Democracy on the Shadow Economy," Economics working papers 2013-16, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
  11. Asatryan, Zareh & De Witte, Kristof, 2014. "Direct democracy and local government efficiency," ZEW Discussion Papers 14-017, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  12. Agnese Sacchi & Aline Pennisi, 2013. "Is direct democracy a problem or a promise for fiscal outcomes? The case of the United States," Departmental Working Papers of Economics - University 'Roma Tre' 0178, Department of Economics - University Roma Tre.
  13. Blume, Lorenz & Voigt, Stefan, 2013. "The economic effects of constitutional budget institutions," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 29(C), pages 236-251.

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