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Signature Requirements and Citizen Initiatives: Quasi-Experimental Evidence from Germany

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  • Felix Arnold
  • Ronny Freier
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    Abstract

    Signature requirements are often used as hurdles to prevent overuse of public referenda. We evaluate the causal effect of lowering signature requirements on the number of observed citizen initiatives. Based on municipality-level data for Germany, we make use of legislative changes at specific population thresholds to build an identification strategy using a regression discontinuity design. We find that reducing the signature requirement by 1 percentage point increases the probability of observing an initiative by 8-10 percentage points. The results are robust to a variety of tests. Importantly, we go into great detail to rule out other potential confounders.

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    File URL: http://www.diw.de/documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.424904.de/dp1311.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research in its series Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin with number 1311.

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    Length: 36 p.
    Date of creation: 2013
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:diw:diwwpp:dp1311

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    Related research

    Keywords: signature requirements; citizen initiatives; local referenda; municipality data; regression discontinuity design;

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    References

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    1. Frederico Finan & Claudio Ferraz, 2009. "Motivating Politicians: The Impacts of Monetary Incentives on Quality and Performance," Working Papers id:1889, eSocialSciences.
    2. Veronica Grembi & Tommaso Nannicini & Ugo Troiano, 2012. "Policy Responses to Fiscal Restraints: A Difference-in-Discontinuities Design," CESifo Working Paper Series 3999, CESifo Group Munich.
    3. Guido Imbens & Karthik Kalyanaraman, 2009. "Optimal Bandwidth Choice for the Regression Discontinuity Estimator," NBER Working Papers 14726, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Peter Egger & Marko Koethenbuerger, 2010. "Government Spending and Legislative Organization: Quasi-experimental evidence from Germany," EPRU Working Paper Series 2010-09, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    5. Stefano Gagliarducci & Tommaso Nannicini, 2010. "Do Better Paid Politicians Perform Better? Disentangling Incentives from Selection," CEIS Research Paper 162, Tor Vergata University, CEIS, revised 28 May 2010.
    6. Stephan Litschig & Kevin Morrison, 2010. "Government spending and re-election: Quasi-experimental evidence from Brazilian municipalities," Economics Working Papers 1233, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Jun 2012.
    7. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 2002. "Political Economics: Explaining Economic Policy," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262661314, December.
    8. McCrary, Justin, 2008. "Manipulation of the running variable in the regression discontinuity design: A density test," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 698-714, February.
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