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Voter Involvement, Fiscal Autonomy and Public Sector Efficiency: Evidence from German Municipalities

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  • Geys, Benny
  • Heinemann, Friedrich
  • Kalb, Alexander

Abstract

Social and/or political involvement within the population is often argued to enhance public sector performance. The underlying idea is that engagement fosters political awareness and interest and increases the public?s monitoring ability. Still, although extensive voter involvement may put pressure on policy-makers, it might also send a vague message in that diverging objectives are likely to exist in different groups. Furthermore, weak fiscal autonomy can undermine voters? interest in and demand for an efficient production of public services. In our contribution, we test whether and how voter involvement in the political sphere is related to government performance – in terms of its efficiency – using a broad panel of German municipalities. Our results suggest that voter involvement indeed has a positive impact on (technical) efficiency. Crucially, however, this efficiency-enhancing effect of voter involvement is significantly (positively) affected by local governments? fiscal autonomy. -- In den letzten 15 Jahren hat sich ein Literaturstrang entwickelt, der den positiven Einfluss von Sozialkapital auf das Leistungsverhalten des öffentlichen Sektors herausstellt. Danach erhöht das Engagement der Bürger im gesellschaftlichen Leben nicht nur das Interesse an sowie das Verständnis für Politik, sondern es führt auch dazu, dass die Bürger eher dazu neigen, eine ?gute? und effiziente Politik einzufordern. Diese Aussage besitzt jedoch nur dann Gültigkeit, wenn zwei entscheidende Annahmen erfüllt sind: Zum einen sollte das soziale Engagement das politische Bewusstsein und Interesse wecken, zum anderen sollte die erhöhte Anteilnahme sowie das erhöhte Interesse an politischen Prozessen zu einer Steigerung der Effizienz der Amtsinhaber oder der amtierenden Regierung führen. Während die erste Annahme bereits in zahlreichen Untersuchungen belegt wurde, wurde die zweite Annahme bisher nur in sehr wenigen Arbeiten untersucht. Dieser Beitrag stellt den Versuch dar, diese Lücke zu schließen. Mithilfe eines umfangreichen Panels von deutschen (baden-württembergischen) Gemeinden wird in dieser Studie empirisch untersucht, ob eine erhöhte Anteilnahme der Bürger an politischen Prozessen ? was als ein Teilaspekt des gesamten ?Sozialkapital-Bereichs? angesehen werden kann ? das Leistungsverhalten des öffentlichen Sektors tatsächlich erhöht, wobei ein ?gutes? Leistungsverhalten (hier) dadurch charakterisiert ist, dass die jeweilige Gebietskörperschaft auf oder sehr nahe an ihrer Effizienzgrenze operiert. Die Effizienzanalyse bezieht sich dabei auf die Gesamtheit aller Aufgaben einer Gebietskörperschaft (hier: einer Gemeinde) und nicht auf einzelne Teilbereiche wie beispielsweise der Abfallbeseitigung, der Verwaltung oder des Straßenbaus. Des Weiteren wird in dieser Studie untersucht, wie sich eine erhöhte Anteilnahme an politischen Prozessen in Gebietskörperschaften, die durch eine höhere fiskalische Autonomie gekennzeichnet und somit weniger von Finanzzuweisungen abhängig sind, auf die Effizienz auswirkt. Denn Bürger (oder Wähler), die in fiskalisch autonomeren Gebietskörperschaften wohnen, werden effektiver mit dem ?tatsächlichen? Steuerpreis der öffentlichen Güter und Dienstleistungen konfrontiert. Die empirische Analyse zeigt, dass eine erhöhte Anteilnahme der Bürger an politischen Prozessen ? gemessen durch (1) die Wahlbeteiligung, (2) die Existenz so genannter ?Freier Wählervereinigungen? im Gemeinde- oder Stadtrat (=Zusammenschlüsse von Personen, die Zwecks Durchsetzung gemeinsamer politischer Ziele zu einer Wahl auf kommunaler Ebene antreten) und (3) den Anteil der Wahlberechtigten an der Gesamtbevölkerung (einer Gemeinde) ? tatsächlich zu einer Steigerung der Effizienz der Amtsinhaber führt. Darüber hinaus wird aufgezeigt, dass dieser Effekt in fiskalisch autonomeren Gemeinden bzw. Städten deutlich höher ausfällt. Letzteres Ergebnis könnte dadurch begründet sein, dass eine (politisch) aktivere Bürgerschaft mehr Wert auf eine korrekte und sachgerechte Verwendung der öffentlichen Mittel legt, wenn diese Gelder nicht etwa in Finanzzuweisungen (von anderen Gebietskörperschaften) ihren Ursprung haben, sondern von eigenen Steuereinnahmen abstammen.

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Paper provided by ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research in its series ZEW Discussion Papers with number 08-024.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:zewdip:7296

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Keywords: Civic engagement; Local government; Efficiency; Stochastic frontier analysis; German municipalities; Social capital; Fiscal autonomy;

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Cited by:
  1. De Witte, Kristof & Geys, Benny, 2010. "Evaluating efficient public good provision: Theory and evidence from a generalised conditional efficiency model for public libraries," Discussion Papers, Research Professorship & Project "The Future of Fiscal Federalism" SP II 2010-14, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
  2. António Afonso & Alma Romero & Emma Monsalve, 2013. "Public sector efficiency: evidence for Latin America," Working Papers Department of Economics, ISEG - School of Economics and Management, Department of Economics, University of Lisbon 2013/20, ISEG - School of Economics and Management, Department of Economics, University of Lisbon.
  3. Laura Carosi & Giovanna D’Inverno & Letizia Ravagli, 2014. "Global public spending efficiency in Tuscan municipalities," Discussion Papers 2014/175, Dipartimento di Economia e Management (DEM), University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy.
  4. Pacheco, Francisca & Sanchez, Rafael & Villena, Mauricio, 2014. "A Longitudinal Parametric Approach to Estimate Local Government Efficiency," MPRA Paper 54918, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  5. Ivo Bischoff & Frédéric Blaeschke, 2012. "Window-Dressing and Lobbying in Performance-Budgeting: a Model for the Public Sector," MAGKS Papers on Economics, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung) 201212, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
  6. De Witte, Kristof & Geys, Benny, 2012. "Citizen coproduction and efficient public good provision: Theory and evidence from local public libraries," Discussion Papers, Research Professorship & Project "The Future of Fiscal Federalism" SP II 2012-108, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
  7. Alexander Kalb, 2010. "The Impact of Intergovernmental Grants on Cost Efficiency: Theory and Evidence from German Municipalities," Economic Analysis and Policy (EAP), Queensland University of Technology (QUT), School of Economics and Finance, Queensland University of Technology (QUT), School of Economics and Finance, vol. 40(1), pages 21-63, March.
  8. Asatryan, Zareh & De Witte, Kristof, 2014. "Direct democracy and local government efficiency," ZEW Discussion Papers 14-017, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  9. Geys, Benny & Moesen, Wim, 2008. "Exploring sources of local government technical inefficiency: evidence from Flemish municipalities," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Market Processes and Governance SP II 2008-18, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
  10. Peter Bönisch & Peter Haug & A. Illy & L. Schreier, 2011. "Municipality Size and Efficiency of Local Public Services: Does Size Matter?," IWH Discussion Papers, Halle Institute for Economic Research 18, Halle Institute for Economic Research.
  11. Kalb, Alexander, 2008. "The Impact of Intergovernmental Grants on Cost Efficiency: Theory and Evidence from German Municipalities," ZEW Discussion Papers 08-051, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  12. da Cruz, Nuno Ferreira & Marques, Rui Cunha, 2014. "Revisiting the determinants of local government performance," Omega, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 91-103.
  13. Ivo Bischoff & Peter Bönisch & Peter Haug & A. Illy, 2013. "Vertical Grants and Local Public Efficiency," IWH Discussion Papers, Halle Institute for Economic Research 1, Halle Institute for Economic Research.

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