IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Evidence on the political principal-agent problem from voting on public finance for concert halls

  • Niklas Potrafke


Principal-agent problems can arise when preferences of voters are not aligned with preferences of political representatives. Often the consequence of the political principal-agent problem is political catering to special interests. In this paper I provide examples of principal-agent problems regarding public spending. The examples concern construction or extension of concert halls in two German cities. Resistance to public funding for the concert halls was particularly strong in electoral districts with large constituencies on the left. The evidence indicates that political representatives were more bourgeois than their constituencies. In the cases studied asymmetric information did not prevail and voters were able to discipline their representatives through referenda that countered the results of voting by political representatives. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by Springer in its journal Constitutional Political Economy.

Volume (Year): 24 (2013)
Issue (Month): 3 (September)
Pages: 215-238

in new window

Handle: RePEc:kap:copoec:v:24:y:2013:i:3:p:215-238
Contact details of provider: Web page:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Grossman, Gene M & Helpman, Elhanan, 1994. "Protection for Sale," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 833-50, September.
  2. Revelli Federico, 2008. "Performance Competition in Local Media Markets," Department of Economics and Statistics Cognetti de Martiis. Working Papers 200801, University of Turin.
  3. David Stadelmann & Marco Portmann & Reiner Eichenberger, 2012. "Preference Representation and the Influence of Political Parties in Majoritarian vs. Proportional Systems: An Almost Ideal Empirical Test," CREMA Working Paper Series 2012-03, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
  4. Lars P. Feld & Justina A.V. Fischer & Gebhard Kirchgässner, 2006. "The Effect of Direct Democracy on Income Redistribution: Evidence for Switzerland," CESifo Working Paper Series 1837, CESifo Group Munich.
  5. Douglas Noonan, 2007. "Fiscal pressures, institutional context, and constituents: a dynamic model of states’ arts agency appropriations," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer, vol. 31(4), pages 293-310, December.
  6. Kristien Werck & Bruno Heyndels & Benny Geys, 2008. "The impact of ‘central places’ on spatial spending patterns: evidence from Flemish local government cultural expenditures," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer, vol. 32(1), pages 35-58, March.
  7. Niklas Potrafke, 2010. "Does government ideology influence budget composition? Empirical evidence from OECD countries," Working Paper Series of the Department of Economics, University of Konstanz 2010-16, Department of Economics, University of Konstanz.
  8. Roland Vaubel & Axel Dreher & Uğurlu Soylu, 2007. "Staff growth in international organizations: A principal-agent problem? An empirical analysis," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 133(3), pages 275-295, December.
  9. Niklas Potrafke, 2013. "Economic Freedom and Government Ideology across the German States," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 47(3), pages 433-449, March.
  10. Niklas Potrafke, 2012. "Is German domestic social policy politically controversial?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 153(3), pages 393-418, December.
  11. De Witte, Kristof & Geys, Benny, 2010. "Evaluating efficient public good provision: Theory and evidence from a generalised conditional efficiency model for public libraries," Discussion Papers, Research Professorship & Project "The Future of Fiscal Federalism" SP II 2010-14, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
  12. Brooks, Arthur C, 2001. " Who Opposes Government Arts Funding?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 108(3-4), pages 355-67, September.
  13. 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.
  14. Schulze, Gunther G & Ursprung, Heinrich W, 2000. " La donna e mobile--Or Is She? Voter Preferences and Public Support for the Performing Arts," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 102(1-2), pages 131-49, January.
  15. Besley, Timothy & Folke, Olle & Persson, Torsten & Rickne, Johanna, 2013. "Gender Quotas and the Crisis of the Mediocre Man: Theory and Evidence from Sweden," Working Paper Series 985, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  16. John Matsusaka, 2005. "The eclipse of legislatures: Direct democracy in the 21st century," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 124(1), pages 157-177, July.
  17. Niklas Potrafke, 2011. "Public Expenditures on Education and Cultural Affairs in the West German States: Does Government Ideology Influence the Budget Composition?," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 12(1), pages 124-145, 02.
  18. Hillman, Arye L., 2010. "Expressive behavior in economics and politics," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 403-418, December.
  19. Jan Schnellenbach & Lars Feld & Christoph Schaltegger, 2010. "The impact of referendums on the centralisation of public goods provision: a political economy approach," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 11(1), pages 3-26, February.
  20. Chiara Dalle Nogare & Matteo Galizzi, 2011. "The political economy of cultural spending: evidence from Italian cities," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer, vol. 35(3), pages 203-231, August.
  21. Günther Schulze & Anselm Rose, 1998. "Public Orchestra Funding in Germany – An Empirical Investigation," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer, vol. 22(4), pages 227-247, December.
  22. Eric Brunner & Stephen L. Ross & Ebonya Washington, 2013. "Does Less Income Mean Less Representation?," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 5(2), pages 53-76, May.
  23. Hillman, Arye L, 1982. "Declining Industries and Political-Support Protectionist Motives," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(5), pages 1180-87, December.
  24. Tally Katz-Gerro & Sharon Raz & Meir Yaish, 2009. "How do class, status, ethnicity, and religiosity shape cultural omnivorousness in Israel?," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer, vol. 33(1), pages 1-17, February.
  25. Lars Feld & Gebhard Kirchgässner & Christoph Schaltegger, 2011. "Municipal debt in Switzerland: new empirical results," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 149(1), pages 49-64, October.
  26. Feld, Lars P. & Schaltegger, Christoph A. & Schnellenbach, Jan, 2008. "On government centralization and fiscal referendums," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(4), pages 611-645, May.
  27. Björn Kauder & Niklas Potrafke, 2013. "Government ideology and tuition fee policy: Evidence from the German states," Ifo Working Paper Series Ifo Working Paper No. 159, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.
  28. Peltzman, Sam, 1992. "Voters as Fiscal Conservatives," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(2), pages 327-61, May.
  29. Marco Portmann & David Stadelmann & Reiner Eichenberger, 2012. "District magnitude and representation of the majority’s preferences: Evidence from popular and parliamentary votes," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 151(3), pages 585-610, June.
  30. Simon Hug, 2009. "Some thoughts about referendums, representative democracy, and separation of powers," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 20(3), pages 251-266, September.
  31. Michael Getzner, 2002. "Determinants of Public Cultural Expenditures: An Exploratory Time Series Analysis for Austria," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer, vol. 26(4), pages 287-306, November.
  32. George Tridimas, 2010. "Referendum and the choice between monarchy and republic in Greece," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 21(2), pages 119-144, June.
  33. Marco Portmann & David Stadelmann, 2013. "Testing the Median Voter Model and Moving Beyond its Limits: Do Characteristics of Politicians Matter?," CREMA Working Paper Series 2013-05, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
  34. Bernardino Benito & Francisco Bastida & Cristina Vicente, 2013. "Municipal elections and cultural expenditure," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer, vol. 37(1), pages 3-32, February.
  35. Amihai Glazer, 2008. "Voting to anger and to please others," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 134(3), pages 247-254, March.
  36. Christina Schneider, 2010. "Fighting with one hand tied behind the back: political budget cycles in the West German states," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 142(1), pages 125-150, January.
  37. Elisabeth R. Gerber & Jeffrey B. Lewis, 2004. "Beyond the Median: Voter Preferences, District Heterogeneity, and Political Representation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(6), pages 1364-1383, December.
  38. Roland Vaubel, 2006. "Principal-agent problems in international organizations," The Review of International Organizations, Springer, vol. 1(2), pages 125-138, June.
  39. Ulrich Oberndorfer & Viktor Steiner, 2007. "Generationen- oder Parteienkonflikt? Eine empirische Analyse der deutschen Hochschulausgaben," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 8(2), pages 165-183, 03.
  40. Merzyn, Wolfram & Ursprung, Heinrich W., 2005. "Voter support for privatizing education: evidence on self-interest and ideology," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 33-58, March.
  41. Reiner Eichenberger & David Stadelmann & Marco Portmann, 2012. "A comparative analysis of the voting behavior of constituents and their representatives for public debts," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 23(3), pages 244-260, September.
  42. Seitz, Helmut, 2000. " Fiscal Policy, Deficits and Politics of Subnational Governments: The Case of the German Laender," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 102(3-4), pages 183-218, March.
  43. Tridimas, George, 2007. "Ratification through referendum or parliamentary vote: When to call a non-required referendum?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 674-692, September.
  44. Levitt, Steven D, 1996. "How Do Senators Vote? Disentangling the Role of Voter Preferences, Party Affiliation, and Senate Ideology," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 425-41, June.
  45. Gunther G. Schulze, 2008. "Tertiary Education in a Federal System: The Case of Germany," Conferences on New Political Economy, in: Max Albert & Stefan Voigt & Dieter Schmidtchen (ed.), Conferences on New Political Economy, edition 1, volume 25, pages 35-66(32) Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:kap:copoec:v:24:y:2013:i:3:p:215-238. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sonal Shukla)

or (Christopher F. Baum)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.