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Public Choice by Referenda or Delegation. An Experimental Comparison of Direct and Indirect Democracy

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Author Info

  • Werner Gueth

    ()

  • Martin Kocher
  • Katinka Pantz

    ()

  • Matthias Sutter

    ()

Abstract

Direct democracy with its use of referenda avoids the prototypical principal-agent problems of delegation in indirect democracies, especially since elected representatives are usually not committed by law to keep their promises. Sequential or more complex referenda may, however, result in an inferior combination of realized policy measures. Thus, it is an open question which type of institution (direct or indirect democracy) will be more efficient. Our experimental study explores this issue and finds that direct democracy seems to perform better.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Max Planck Institute of Economics, Strategic Interaction Group in its series Papers on Strategic Interaction with number 2004-04.

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Length: 16 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:esi:discus:2004-04

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Keywords: referenda; delegation; experiment;

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  1. Tim Besley & Stephen Coate, . "An Economic Model of Representative Democracy," Penn CARESS Working Papers ecf70d639d700dba5327ab0c8, Penn Economics Department.
  2. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, . "Happiness, Economy and Institutions," IEW - Working Papers 015, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  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. Lars P. Feld & Gebhard Kirchgassner, 1999. "Public Debt and Budgetary Procedures: Top Down or Bottom Up? Some Evidence from Swiss Municipalities," NBER Chapters, in: Fiscal Institutions and Fiscal Performance, pages 151-180 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  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.
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