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How do Electoral Systems Affect Fiscal Policy? Evidence from State and Local Governments, 1890 to 2005

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  • Patricia Funk
  • Christina Gathmann

Abstract

Using a new data set on Swiss state and local governments from 1890 to today, we analyze how the adoption of proportional representation affects fiscal policy. We show that proportional systems shift spending toward broad goods (e.g. education and welfare benefits) but decrease spending on targetable goods (e.g. roads and agricultural subsidies). Our evidence does not suggest that proportional representation increases the overall size of government. We provide new evidence on the mechanism behind these estimates. We show that proportional elections lead to better political representation of left-wing parties, which are associated with more spending. Furthermore, proportional elections lead to higher political fragmentation. However, since political fragmentation increases spending in a plurality system only, proportional elections reduce spending through its more moderate effects of fractionalized parliaments.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 2958.

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Date of creation: 2010
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2958

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Keywords: electoral system; public finance; political fragmentation; matching;

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References

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  1. Torsten Persson & Gerard Roland & Guido Tabellini, 2007. "Electoral Rules and Government Spending in Parliamentary Democracies," Levine's Working Paper Archive 321307000000000880, David K. Levine.
  2. Timothy Besley & Ian Preston, 2007. "Electoral Bias and Policy Choice: Theory and Evidence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(4), pages 1473-1510, November.
  3. Davide Ticchi & Andrea Vindigni, 2010. "Endogenous Constitutions," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 120(543), pages 1-39, 03.
  4. Alessandro Lizzeri & Nicola Persico, . ""The Provision of Public Goods Under Alternative Electoral Incentives''," CARESS Working Papres 98-08, University of Pennsylvania Center for Analytic Research and Economics in the Social Sciences.
  5. Tavares, Jose, 2004. "Does right or left matter? Cabinets, credibility and fiscal adjustments," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(12), pages 2447-2468, December.
  6. Reza Baqir, 2002. "Districting and Government Overspending," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(6), pages 1318-1354, December.
  7. Alberto Alesina & Reza Baqir & William Easterly, 1997. "Public Goods and Ethnic Divisions," NBER Working Papers 6009, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Alessandro Lizzeri & Nicola Persico, 2005. "A Drawback Of Electoral Competition," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(6), pages 1318-1348, December.
  9. Per Pettersson-Lidbom, 2008. "Do Parties Matter for Economic Outcomes? A Regression-Discontinuity Approach," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 6(5), pages 1037-1056, 09.
  10. Austen-Smith, David & Banks, Jeffrey., 1987. "Elections, Coalitions, and Legislative Outcomes," Working Papers 643, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  11. Assar Lindbeck & Jörgen Weibull, 1987. "Balanced-budget redistribution as the outcome of political competition," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 52(3), pages 273-297, January.
  12. Philippe Aghion & Alberto Alesina & Francesco Trebbi, 2004. "Endogenous Political Institutions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(2), pages 565-611, May.
  13. Gilligan, Thomas W. & Matsusaka, John G., 2001. "Fiscal Policy, Legislature Size, and Political Parties: Evidence from State and Local Governments in the First Half of the 20th Century," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 54(n. 1), pages 57-82, March.
  14. Stefano Gagliarducci & Tommaso Nannicini & Paolo Naticchioni, 2007. "Electoral Rules And Politicians' Behavior: A Micro Test," Working Papers wp2007_0716, CEMFI.
  15. Weingast, Barry R & Shepsle, Kenneth A & Johnsen, Christopher, 1981. "The Political Economy of Benefits and Costs: A Neoclassical Approach to Distributive Politics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(4), pages 642-64, August.
  16. Bradbury, John Charles & Crain, W. Mark, 2001. "Legislative organization and government spending: cross-country evidence," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(3), pages 309-325, December.
  17. Aidt, T.S. & Dutta, Jayasri & Loukoianova, Elena, 2006. "Democracy comes to Europe: Franchise extension and fiscal outcomes 1830-1938," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 249-283, February.
  18. David Austen-Smith, 2000. "Redistributing Income under Proportional Representation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(6), pages 1235-1269, December.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Vincenzo Galasso & Tommaso Nannicini, 2013. "Men Vote in Mars, Women Vote in Venus: A Survey Experiment in the Field," CESifo Working Paper Series 4328, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Migheli, Matteo & Ortona, Guido, 2009. "Majority, proportionality, governability and factions," POLIS Working Papers 122, Institute of Public Policy and Public Choice - POLIS.
  3. Raffaella SANTOLINI, 2013. "Electoral rules and public expenditure composition: Evidence from Italian regions," Working Papers 396, Universita' Politecnica delle Marche (I), Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche e Sociali.
  4. Galasso, Vincenzo & Nunnari, Salvatore, 2010. "Electoral Incentives and Economic Policy across Political Regimes," CEPR Discussion Papers 7959, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

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