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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. Christoph A. Schaltegger & Lars P. Feld, 2001. "On Government Centralization and Budget Referendums: Evidence from Switzerland," CESifo Working Paper Series 615, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Frey, Bruno S & Stutzer, Alois, 2000. "Happiness, Economy and Institutions," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(466), pages 918-38, October.
  3. Eric Maskin & Jean Tirole, 2004. "The Politician and the Judge: Accountability in Government," Economics Working Papers 0020, Institute for Advanced Study, School of Social Science.
  4. Henning Bohn & Robert P. Inman, 1996. "Balanced Budget Rules and Public Deficits: Evidence from the U.S. States," NBER Working Papers 5533, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Gary S. Becker, 1983. "A Theory of Competition Among Pressure Groups for Political Influence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 98(3), pages 371-400.
  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. 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.
  8. Blomberg, S.B. & Hess, G.D., 1999. "The Impact of Voter Initiatives on Economic Activity," Papers 99-11, Wellesley College - Department of Economics.
  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. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Reza Baqir, 2002. "Districting and Government Overspending," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(6), pages 1318-1354, December.
  13. Kahn, Matthew E & Matsusaka, John G, 1997. "Demand for Environmental Goods: Evidence from Voting Patterns on California Initiatives," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 40(1), pages 137-73, April.
  14. George J. Stigler, 1971. "The Theory of Economic Regulation," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 2(1), pages 3-21, Spring.
  15. 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.
  16. Sam Peltzman, 1988. "How Efficient Is the Voting Market?," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 53, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
  17. John G. Matsusaka, 1992. "Economics of Direct Legislation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(2), pages 541-571.
  18. Anke Kessler, 2005. "Representative versus direct democracy: The role of informational asymmetries," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 122(1), pages 9-38, January.
  19. James Poterba, 1992. "Capital Budgets, Borrowing Rules, and State Capital Spending," NBER Working Papers 4235, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. Di Tella, Rafael & Fisman, Raymond, 2004. "Are Politicians Really Paid Like Bureaucrats?," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 47(2), pages 477-513, October.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. Thomas Romer & Howard Rosenthal, 1979. "Bureaucrats Versus Voters: On the Political Economy of Resource Allocation by Direct Democracy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 93(4), pages 563-587.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
  29. Peltzman, Sam, 1984. "Constituent Interest and Congressional Voting," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(1), pages 181-210, April.
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