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The political economy of policy centralization: direct versus representative democracy


  • Redoano, Michela
  • Scharf, Kimberly A.


This paper analyses policy centralization outcomes in a two-jurisdiction model of public good provision choices with heterogeneous policy preferences and inter-jurisdictional policy spillovers under two alternative political procedures: direct referendum and representative democracy. We show that policy centralization is more likely to occur if the choice to centralize is made by elected policymakers rather than by referendum. In these situations, centralized policies converge to the preferred level of the jurisdiction that least favours centralization, rather than to a compromise between the two jurisdictions’ preferred levels.
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  • Redoano, Michela & Scharf, Kimberly A., 2004. "The political economy of policy centralization: direct versus representative democracy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(3-4), pages 799-817, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:88:y:2004:i:3-4:p:799-817

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1994. "Does centralization increase the size of government?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 38(3-4), pages 765-773, April.
    2. Konstantine Gatsios & Larry Karp, 1991. "Delegation Games in Customs Unions," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(2), pages 391-397.
    3. Timothy Besley & Stephen Coate, 1999. "Centralized versus Decentralized Provision of Local Public Goods: A Political Economy Analysis," NBER Working Papers 7084, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Fershtman, Chaim & Judd, Kenneth L & Kalai, Ehud, 1991. "Observable Contracts: Strategic Delegation and Cooperation," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 32(3), pages 551-559, August.
    5. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 1998. "Sources of Inefficiency in a Representative Democracy: A Dynamic Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 139-156, March.
    6. Dhillon, Amrita & Perroni, Carlo & Scharf, Kimberley A., 1999. "Implementing tax coordination," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 243-268, May.
    7. Charles Blankart, 2000. "The Process of Government Centralization: A Constitutional View," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 11(1), pages 27-39, March.
    8. Martin J. Osborne & Al Slivinski, 1996. "A Model of Political Competition with Citizen-Candidates," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(1), pages 65-96.
    9. Timothy Besley & Stephen Coate, 1997. "An Economic Model of Representative Democracy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(1), pages 85-114.
    10. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 1992. "The Politics of 1992: Fiscal Policy and European Integration," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 59(4), pages 689-701.
    11. Gatsios, Konstantine & Karp, Larry, 1995. "Delegation in a general equilibrium model of customs unions," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 319-333, February.
    12. Christoph A. Schaltegger & Lars P. Feld, 2001. "On Government Centralization and Budget Referendums: Evidence from Switzerland," CESifo Working Paper Series 615, CESifo Group Munich.
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    JEL classification:

    • H20 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - General
    • H70 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - General


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