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The Economic Effects of Direct Democracy - A Cross-Country Assessment

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  • Stefan Voigt

    (University of Kassel)

  • Lorenz Blume

    (Economics Department, University of Kassel, Germany)

Abstract

This is the first study that assesses the economic effects of direct democratic institutions on a cross country basis. Most of the results of the former intra-country studies could be confirmed. On the basis of some 30 countries, a higher degree of direct democracy leads to lower total government expenditure (albeit insignificantly) but also to higher central government revenue. Central government budget deficits are lower in countries using direct democratic institutions. As former intra-country studies, we also find that government effectiveness is higher under strong direct-democratic institutions and corruption lower. Both labor and total factor productivity are significantly higher in countries with direct democratic institutions. The low number of observations as well as the very general nature of the variable used to proxy for direct democracy clearly call for a more fine-grained analysis of the issues.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Berkeley Electronic Press in its series German Working Papers in Law and Economics with number 2006-1-1144.

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Handle: RePEc:bep:dewple:2006-1-1144

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  1. Blomberg, S. Brock & Hess, Gregory D. & Weerapana, Akila, 2004. "The impact of voter initiatives on economic activity," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 207-226, March.
  2. Feld, Lars P & Savioz, Marcel R, 1997. "Direct Democracy Matters for Economic Performance: An Empirical Investigation," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(4), pages 507-38.
  3. Matsusaka, John G, 1995. "Fiscal Effects of the Voter Initiative: Evidence from the Last 30 Years," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(3), pages 587-623, June.
  4. Feld, Lars P. & Voigt, Stefan, 2003. "Economic growth and judicial independence: cross-country evidence using a new set of indicators," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 497-527, September.
  5. Feld, Lars P. & Matsusaka, John G., 2003. "Budget referendums and government spending: evidence from Swiss cantons," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(12), pages 2703-2724, December.
  6. James E. Alt & David Dreyer Lassen, 2002. "The Political Economy of Institutions and Corruption in American States," EPRU Working Paper Series 02-16, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  7. Jessica Seddon Wallack & Alejandro Gaviria & Ugo Panizza & Ernesto Stein, 2003. "Particularism around the World," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 17(1), pages 133-143, June.
  8. Lars P Feld & Gebhard Kirchgässner, 2001. "The political economy of direct legislation: direct democracy and local decision-making," Economic Policy, CEPR & CES & MSH, vol. 16(33), pages 329-367, October.
  9. John G. Matsusaka, 2005. "Direct Democracy Works," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(2), pages 185-206, Spring.
  10. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 2005. "The Economic Effects of Constitutions," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262661926, December.
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