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The political economy of policy centralization: direct versus representative democracy

  • Redoano, Michela
  • Scharf, Kimberly A.

This paper examines policy centralization outcomes in a two-jurisdiction, political economy model of public good provision choices with heterogeneous policy preferences and interjurisdictional policy spillovers, under alternative democratic choice procedures, namely, direct democracy 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. The reason for this result is that delegation of the harmonization choice to elected policymakers can effectively act as a policy commitment device by a pro-centralization jurisdiction and induce a reluctant partner to cooperate. In these situations, policy centralization will result in policies converging towards the choice preferred by the reluctant partner, rather than in a dilution of policy preferences.

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File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0047-2727(03)00017-3
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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Public Economics.

Volume (Year): 88 (2004)
Issue (Month): 3-4 (March)
Pages: 799-817

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Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:88:y:2004:i:3-4:p:799-817
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578

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  1. 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 139-56, March.
  2. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 1990. "The Politics of 1992: Fiscal Policy and European Integration," NBER Working Papers 3460, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Amrita Dhillon & Carlo Perroni & Kimberley A. Scharf, . "Implementing Tax Coordination," EPRU Working Paper Series 97-09, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  4. Christoph A. Schaltegger & Lars P. Feld, 2001. "On Government Centralization and Budget Referendums: Evidence from Switzerland," CESifo Working Paper Series 615, CESifo Group Munich.
  5. Tim Besley & Stephen Coate, . "An Economic Model of Representative Democracy," Penn CARESS Working Papers ecf70d639d700dba5327ab0c8, Penn Economics Department.
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  7. 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.
  8. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1994. "Does centralization increase the size of government?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 38(3-4), pages 765-773, April.
  9. Charles Blankart, 2000. "The Process of Government Centralization: A Constitutional View," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 11(1), pages 27-39, March.
  10. Konstantine Gatsios & Larry Karp, 1991. "Delegation Games in Customs Unions," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(2), pages 391-397.
  11. Martin J. Osborne & Al Slivinksi, 1995. "A Model of Political Competition with Citizen-Candidates," Department of Economics Working Papers 1995-01, McMaster University.
  12. 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.
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