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Trust and Fiscal Performance: A Panel Analysis with Swiss Data

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  • Christoph A. Schaltegger
  • Benno Torgler

Abstract

Citizens are willing to abandon their short-term financial interest in free-riding considerably, if governments act in their interest, if procedures of the public decisions-making process are felt to be fair and if other fellow-citizens have to contribute also an adequate share to the community. In such a situation trustworthiness of a government and trust in a government is high. This paper provides empirical evidence that trust is crucial for fiscal performance using data for the full sample of Swiss cantons over the 1981-2001 period. In cantons with high levels of trust, the level of indebtedness is significantly lower. Trust supports fiscal discipline. In order to get a useful approximation for mutual trust among citizens and between citizens and their representatives, we use information from direct voter participation on political issues (initiatives and public referenda) held in Swiss state (cantonal) governments. Electoral support of government proposals reveals an important aspect of trust in a real world setting. Hence, our trust variable measures the behavior at the ballots thereby reducing possible subjective biases derived from surveys and questionnaires.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA) in its series CREMA Working Paper Series with number 2005-05.

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Date of creation: Mar 2005
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Handle: RePEc:cra:wpaper:2005-05

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Keywords: Trust; Social capital; Fiscal performance; Indebtedness.;

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References

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  1. Lars P. Feld & Jan Schnellenbach & Christoph A Schaltegger, 2004. "On Government Centralization and Fiscal Referendums: A Theoretical Model and Evidence from Switzerland," Marburg Working Papers on Economics 200419, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
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  7. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 2001. "Political Institutions and Policy Outcomes: What are the Stylized Facts?," CEPR Discussion Papers 2872, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  16. 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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Cited by:
  1. Gaetano Lisi, 2012. "Macroeconomic implications of the dynamics between power and trust: a theoretical formalisation of the ‘slippery slope’ framework," EERI Research Paper Series EERI_RP_2012_21, Economics and Econometrics Research Institute (EERI), Brussels.
  2. Justina A. V. Fischer & Benno Torgler, 2006. "Does envy destroy social fundamentals? The impact of relative income position on social capital," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 6640, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  3. Pedro L. Rodríguez, José R. Morales, Fancisco J. Monaldi, 2012. "Direct Distribution of Oil Revenues in Venezuela: A Viable Alternative?," Working Papers 306, Center for Global Development.
  4. repec:ebl:ecbull:v:26:y:2006:i:4:p:1-20 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. Justina A.V. Fischer & Benno Torgler, 2006. "The Effect of Relative Income Position on Social Capital," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 26(4), pages 1-20.
  6. Justina AV Fischer & Antonio Rodriguez-Andrés, 2008. "Political institutions and suicide: A regional analysis of Switzerland," TWI Research Paper Series 33, Thurgauer Wirtschaftsinstitut, Universität Konstanz.

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