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Elected Versus Appointed Policymakers: Evidence from City Treasurers

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  • Alexander Whalley

Abstract

This paper investigates whether methods of public official selection affect policymaking in cities. I draw on the unique characteristics of California's city referendum process to identify the causal effect of city treasurers' method of selection on their cities' debt management policies. I utilize a regression discontinuity strategy based on the effect of narrowly-passing appointive city treasurer referendums on city borrowing costs. The results indicate that appointive treasurers reduce a city's cost of borrowing by 13% to 23%. The results imply that if all cities in California with elected treasurers were to appoint them, total borrowing expenditures would be reduced by more than $20 million per year. Appointive city treasurers appear to reduce borrowing costs primarily through the refinancing of expensive debt at lower interest rates.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15643.

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Date of creation: Jan 2010
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Publication status: published as Alexander Whalley, 2013. "Elected versus Appointed Policy Makers: Evidence from City Treasurers," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 56(1), pages 39 - 81.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15643

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  1. Philippe Aghion & Alberto Alesina & Francesco Trebbi, 2002. "Endogenous Political Institutions," NBER Working Papers 9006, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Ferraz, Claudio & Finan, Frederico S., 2007. "Electoral Accountability and Corruption in Local Governments: Evidence from Audit Reports," IZA Discussion Papers 2843, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Alberto Alesina & Guido Tabellini, 2007. "Bureaucrats or Politicians? Part I: A Single Policy Task," Levine's Working Paper Archive 321307000000000870, David K. Levine.
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  5. Fernando Ferreira & Joseph Gyourko, 2009. "Do Political Parties Matter? Evidence from U.S. Cities-super-," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 124(1), pages 399-422, February.
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  8. Eric Maskin, 2003. "The Politician and the Judge: Accountability in Government," Theory workshop papers, UCLA Department of Economics 505798000000000076, UCLA Department of Economics.
  9. Acemoglu, D. & Ticchi, D. & Vindigni, A., 2006. "Emergence and Persistence of Inefficient States," Papers 12-02-2006, Princeton University, Research Program in Political Economy.
  10. Stephanie Riegg Cellini & Fernando Ferreira & Jesse Rothstein, 2008. "The Value of School Facilities: Evidence from a Dynamic Regression Discontinuity Design," NBER Working Papers 14516, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Timothy Besley & Stephen Coate, 2003. "Elected Versus Appointed Regulators: Theory and Evidence," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 1(5), pages 1176-1206, 09.
  12. Lee, David S., 2008. "Randomized experiments from non-random selection in U.S. House elections," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 675-697, February.
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  15. Alesina, Alberto & Tabellini, Guido, 2008. "Bureaucrats or politicians? Part II: Multiple policy tasks," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(3-4), pages 426-447, April.
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Cited by:
  1. Köthenbürger, Marko & Egger, Peter & Smart, Michael, 2013. "Do Electoral Rules Make Legislators Differently Responsive to Fiscal Transfers? Evidence from German Municipalities," Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 79972, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
  2. Razvan Vlaicu & Alexander Whalley, 2011. "Do housing bubbles generate fiscal bubbles?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 149(1), pages 89-108, October.
  3. Mark Partridge & Tim Sass, 2011. "The productivity of elected and appointed officials: the case of school superintendents," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 149(1), pages 133-149, October.
  4. Mu, Ren & Zhang, Xiaobo, 2014. "Do elected leaders in a limited democracy have real power? Evidence from rural China," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 17-27.

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