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Does the Size of the Legislature Affect the Size of Government? Evidence from a Natural Experiment

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  • Pettersson Lidbom, Per

    ()
    (Dept. of Economics, Stockholm University)

Abstract

Previous empirical studies have found a positive relationship between the size of the legislature and the size of government. Those studies, however, do not adequately address the concerns of endogeneity. In contrast, this paper exploits an exogenous variation in the size of the legislature induced by a statutory law linking council size to the number of eligible voters in Swedish local governments. The statutory law can potentially create discontinuities between number of eligible voters and council size at certain known values. These discontinuities are used to construct instrumental variable estimates of the effect of council size on government size. In contrast to previous findings, the results show that an increase of the council size leads to a statistically and economically significant decrease in spending and revenues. On average, spending and revenues are decreased by roughly 0.5-0.8 percent for each additional council member.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Stockholm University, Department of Economics in its series Research Papers in Economics with number 2003:18.

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Length: 34 pages
Date of creation: 17 Dec 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:sunrpe:2003_0018

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Postal: Department of Economics, Stockholm, S-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
Phone: +46 8 16 20 00
Fax: +46 8 16 14 25
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Web page: http://www.ne.su.se/
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Related research

Keywords: government size; legislature; regression-discontinuity design; natural experiment;

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References

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  1. Joshua Angrist & Alan B. Krueger, 2001. "Instrumental Variables and the Search for Identification: From Supply and Demand to Natural Experiments," NBER Working Papers 8456, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Joshua D. Angrist & Guido W. Imbens, 1991. "Sources of Identifying Information in Evaluation Models," NBER Technical Working Papers 0117, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  4. Pettersson Lidbom, Per, 2003. "A Test of the Rational Electoral-Cycle Hypothesis," Research Papers in Economics 2003:16, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
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  6. 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.
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  9. Tim Besley, 2002. "Political institutions and policy choices: evidence from the United States," IFS Working Papers W02/13, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
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  13. Angrist, Joshua D., 1991. "Grouped-data estimation and testing in simple labor-supply models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 47(2-3), pages 243-266, February.
  14. Pettersson-Lidbom , Per, 2003. "Do Parties Matter for Fiscal Policy Choices? A Regression-Discontinuity Approach," Research Papers in Economics 2003:15, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
  15. James J. Heckman, 2001. "Micro Data, Heterogeneity, and the Evaluation of Public Policy: Nobel Lecture," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(4), pages 673-748, August.
  16. Caroline M. Hoxby, 2000. "The Effects Of Class Size On Student Achievement: New Evidence From Population Variation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(4), pages 1239-1285, November.
  17. Perotti, Roberto & Kontopoulos, Yianos, 2002. "Fragmented fiscal policy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(2), pages 191-222, November.
  18. Per Pettersson-Lidbom, 2001. "An Empirical Investigation of the Strategic Use of Debt," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(3), pages 570-583, June.
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  20. repec:fth:prinin:455 is not listed on IDEAS
  21. Reza Baqir, 2002. "Districting and Government Overspending," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(6), pages 1318-1354, December.
  22. 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.
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Cited by:
  1. Pettersson-Lidbom, Per, 2012. "Does the size of the legislature affect the size of government? Evidence from two natural experiments," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(3), pages 269-278.
  2. Pettersson-Lidbom , Per, 2003. "Do Parties Matter for Fiscal Policy Choices? A Regression-Discontinuity Approach," Research Papers in Economics 2003:15, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.

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