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Late Budgets


  • Asger Lau Andersen
  • David Dreyer Lassen
  • Lasse Holbøll Westh Nielsen


The budget forms the legal basis for government spending, and timely budgets, enacted before the new fiscal year, are an integral part of good governance. This paper examines the causes of late budgets using a unique dataset of budget completion dates for US state governments 1988-2007, constructed from news reports and state budget office surveys. We find 23 percent of state budgets to be late. We show that changing economic circumstances and divided government are the driving forces behind late budgets, which is consistent with a war-of-attrition bargaining model featuring budget baselines and preferences over deviations from such baselines. (JEL C78, D72, H61, H72)

Suggested Citation

  • Asger Lau Andersen & David Dreyer Lassen & Lasse Holbøll Westh Nielsen, 2012. "Late Budgets," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 4(4), pages 1-40, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejpol:v:4:y:2012:i:4:p:1-40 Note: DOI: 10.1257/pol.4.4.1

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    • Asger L. Andersen & David Dreyer Lassen & Lasse Holbøll Westh Nielsen, 2010. "Late Budgets," EPRU Working Paper Series 2010-04, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.

    References listed on IDEAS

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    11. Gary A. Wagner & Erick M. Elder, 2005. "The Role of Budget Stabilization Funds in Smoothing Government Expenditures over the Business Cycle," Public Finance Review, , vol. 33(4), pages 439-465, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bernecker, Andreas, 2016. "Divided we reform? Evidence from US welfare policies," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 142(C), pages 24-38.
    2. Shoag, Daniel & Veuger, Stan, 2016. "Uncertainty and the geography of the great recession," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 84-93.
    3. Niklas Potrafke, 2017. "Government Ideology and Economic Policy-Making in the United States," CESifo Working Paper Series 6444, CESifo Group Munich.
    4. Andersen, Asger Lau & Lassen, David Dreyer & Nielsen, Lasse Holbøll Westh, 2014. "The impact of late budgets on state government borrowing costs," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 27-35.
    5. Andreas Bernecker, 2014. "Divided We Reform? Evidence from US Welfare Policies," CESifo Working Paper Series 4564, CESifo Group Munich.
    6. Asger Lau Andersen & David Dreyer Lassen & Lasse Holbøll Westh Nielsen, 2010. "The Impact of Fiscal Governance on Bond Markets: Evidence from Late Budgets and State Government Borrowing Costs," EPRU Working Paper Series 2010-11, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C78 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Bargaining Theory; Matching Theory
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • H61 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Budget; Budget Systems
    • H72 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Budget and Expenditures


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