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Budget Referendums and Government Spending: Evidence from Swiss

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  • Lars P. Feld
  • John G. Matsusaka

Abstract

New government spending must be approved by a referendum of citizens in many Swiss cantons. This decisionmaking procedure seems like a simple way to address citizen-legislator agency problems, but little systematic evidence is available concerning its effect on spending outcomes. We estimate spending regressions for Swiss cantons using panel data from 1986 to 1997. After controlling for demographics and other determinants of spending, mandatory referendums on new spending are found to reduce the size of the budget by 17% for the median canton.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 323.

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Date of creation: 2000
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_323

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Keywords: Budget referendums; initiatives; government spending;

References

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  1. Dye, Richard F. & McGuire, Therese J., 1997. "The effect of property tax limitation measures on local government fiscal behavior," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 66(3), pages 469-487, December.
  2. James M. Poterba & J├╝rgen von Hagen, 1999. "Fiscal Institutions and Fiscal Performance," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number pote99-1.
  3. Sharon Megdal, 1983. "The determination of local public expenditures and the principal and agent relation: A case study," Public Choice, Springer, Springer, vol. 40(1), pages 71-87, January.
  4. Henning Bohn & Robert P. Inman, 1996. "Balanced Budget Rules and Public Deficits: Evidence from the U.S. States," NBER Working Papers 5533, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Henning Bohn & Robert P. Inman, . "Balanced Budget Rules and Public Deficits: Evidence from the U.S. States (Reprint 060)," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research 10-96, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  6. Pommerehne, Werner W., 1978. "Institutional approaches to public expenditure : Empirical evidence from Swiss municipalities," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 255-280, April.
  7. Matsusaka, John G & McCarty, Nolan M, 2001. "Political Resource Allocation: Benefits and Costs of Voter Initiatives," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(2), pages 413-48, October.
  8. Romer, Thomas & Rosenthal, Howard, 1979. "Bureaucrats versus Voters: On the Political Economy of Resource Allocation by Direct Democracy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 93(4), pages 563-87, November.
  9. Pommerehne, Werner W., 1990. "The empirical relevance of comparative institutional analysis," European Economic Review, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 34(2-3), pages 458-469, May.
  10. Feld, Lars P & Savioz, Marcel R, 1997. "Direct Democracy Matters for Economic Performance: An Empirical Investigation," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(4), pages 507-38.
  11. Romer, Thomas & Rosenthal, Howard & Munley, Vincent G., 1992. "Economic incentives and political institutions: Spending and voting in school budget referenda," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 1-33, October.
  12. Lars P. Feld & Gebhard Kirchgassner, 1999. "Public Debt and Budgetary Procedures: Top Down or Bottom Up? Some Evidence from Swiss Municipalities," NBER Chapters, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, in: Fiscal Institutions and Fiscal Performance, pages 151-180 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Matsusaka, John G, 2000. "Fiscal Effects of the Voter Initiative in the First Half of the Twentieth Century," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 43(2), pages 619-50, October.
  14. Frey, Bruno S, 1994. "Direct Democracy: Politico-economic Lessons from Swiss Experience," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 338-42, May.
  15. Kiewiet, D Roderick & Szakaly, Kristin, 1996. "Constitutional Limitations on Borrowing: An Analysis of State Bonded Indebtedness," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, Oxford University Press, vol. 12(1), pages 62-97, April.
  16. Matsusaka, John G, 1995. "Fiscal Effects of the Voter Initiative: Evidence from the Last 30 Years," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(3), pages 587-623, June.
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