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Direct Democracy Works

  • John G. Matsusaka

The purpose of this essay is to describe the practice and theory of the increasingly important political phenomenon of direct democracy and the main lessons from the scholarly literature. Many questions remain to be answered, but the emerging view is that direct democracy works--allowing the general public to participate in lawmaking often seems to improve the performance of government.

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/0895330054048713
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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Volume (Year): 19 (2005)
Issue (Month): 2 (Spring)
Pages: 185-206

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Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:19:y:2005:i:2:p:185-206
Note: DOI: 10.1257/0895330054048713
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  1. Matsusaka, John G & McCarty, Nolan M, 2001. "Political Resource Allocation: Benefits and Costs of Voter Initiatives," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(2), pages 413-48, October.
  2. Bohn, Henning & Inman, Robert P., 1996. "Balanced-budget rules and public deficits: evidence from the U.S. states," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 13-76, December.
  3. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2000. "Happiness, Economy and Institutions," CESifo Working Paper Series 246, CESifo Group Munich.
  4. Anke Kessler, 2005. "Representative versus direct democracy: The role of informational asymmetries," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 122(1), pages 9-38, January.
  5. Romer, Thomas & Rosenthal, Howard, 1979. "Bureaucrats versus Voters: On the Political Economy of Resource Allocation by Direct Democracy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 93(4), pages 563-87, November.
  6. 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.
  7. James Poterba, 1992. "Capital Budgets, Borrowing Rules, and State Capital Spending," NBER Working Papers 4235, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Becker, Gary S, 1983. "A Theory of Competition among Pressure Groups for Political Influence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 98(3), pages 371-400, August.
  9. Matthew E. Kahn, 2002. "Demographic change and the demand for environmental regulation," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(1), pages 45-62.
  10. Christoph A. Schaltegger & Lars P. Feld, 2001. "On Government Centralization and Budget Referendums: Evidence from Switzerland," CESifo Working Paper Series 615, CESifo Group Munich.
  11. Khan, M. & Matsusaka, J.G., 1995. "Demand for Environment Goods: Evidence from Voting Patterns on California Initiatives," Discussion Papers 1995_08, Columbia University, Department of Economics.
  12. DelRossi, Alison F. & Inman, Robert P., 1999. "Changing the price of pork: the impact of local cost sharing on legislators' demands for distributive public goods," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 247-273, February.
  13. Filer, John E & Kenny, Lawrence W, 1980. "Voter Reaction to City-County Consolidation Referenda," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(1), pages 179-90, April.
  14. Matsusaka, John G, 1992. "Economics of Direct Legislation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(2), pages 541-71, May.
  15. Blomberg, S. Brock & Hess, Gregory D. & Weerapana, Akila, 2004. "The impact of voter initiatives on economic activity," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 207-226, March.
  16. Henning Bohn & Robert P. Inman, . "Balanced Budget Rules and Public Deficits: Evidence from the U.S. States (Reprint 060)," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 10-96, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  17. Kiewiet, D Roderick & Szakaly, Kristin, 1996. "Constitutional Limitations on Borrowing: An Analysis of State Bonded Indebtedness," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 12(1), pages 62-97, April.
  18. 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.
  19. Reza Baqir, 2002. "Districting and Government Overspending," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(6), pages 1318-1354, December.
  20. Peltzman, Sam, 1990. "How Efficient Is the Voting Market?," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(1), pages 27-63, April.
  21. Eric Maskin & Jean Tirole, 2004. "The Politician and the Judge: Accountability in Government," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 1034-1054, September.
  22. Rafael Di Tella & Raymond Fisman, 2002. "Are Politicians Really Paid Like Bureaucrats?," NBER Working Papers 9165, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. Feld, Lars P & Kirchgassner, Gebhard, 2001. " Does Direct Democracy Reduce Public Debt? Evidence from Swiss Municipalities," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 109(3-4), pages 347-70, December.
  24. Peltzman, Sam, 1984. "Constituent Interest and Congressional Voting," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(1), pages 181-210, April.
  25. Gilligan, Thomas W & Matsusaka, John G, 1995. "Deviations from Constituent Interests: The Role of Legislative Structure and Political Parties in the States," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 33(3), pages 383-401, July.
  26. Feld, Lars P & Savioz, Marcel R, 1997. "Direct Democracy Matters for Economic Performance: An Empirical Investigation," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(4), pages 507-38.
  27. George J. Stigler, 1971. "The Theory of Economic Regulation," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 2(1), pages 3-21, Spring.
  28. Kalt, Joseph P & Zupan, Mark A, 1984. "Capture and Ideology in the Economic Theory of Politics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 279-300, June.
  29. Kau, James B & Rubin, Paul H, 1979. "Self-Interest, Ideology, and Logrolling in Congressional Voting," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(2), pages 365-84, October.
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