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The economic effects of constitutions: do budget institutions make forms of government more alike?

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  • Martin Ardanaz

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  • Carlos Scartascini

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Abstract

According to an influential theoretical argument, presidential systems tend to present smaller governments relative to parliamentary countries because the separation between those who decide the size of the fiscal purse and those who allocate it creates incentives for lower public expenditures. In practice, however, presidential and parliamentary countries come in many forms. In particular, variation in procedural rules that assign budget prerogatives across the popular branches of government may affect the underlying incentives that differentiate these types of regimes in terms of fiscal outcomes. More specifically, we argue that more hierarchical rules that concentrate budgetary power in the executive relative to the legislature do not only reduce the extent of the common pool problem but also limit the degree of separation of powers, which may have a countervailing effect. Consequently, the effect of the form of government on public expenditures is conditional on specific procedural rules. We test this hypothesis on a broad cross-section of countries and find that presidentialism has a negative impact on government size only when executive discretion in the budget process is low (that is, in a context of separation of powers). However, the negative effect of presidentialism on expenditures vanishes when the executive’s discretion over the budget process is higher. This result, in addition to highlighting that not all budget institutions have the same effect on incentives and outcomes, points out how important it is to go beyond broad characterizations of political institutions for explaining policy outcomes, and more generally, for moving forward the research agenda in constitutional political economy. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Suggested Citation

  • Martin Ardanaz & Carlos Scartascini, 2014. "The economic effects of constitutions: do budget institutions make forms of government more alike?," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 25(3), pages 301-329, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:copoec:v:25:y:2014:i:3:p:301-329 DOI: 10.1007/s10602-014-9166-y
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Bettareli, Luca & Cella, Michela & Iannantuoni, Giovanna & Manzoni, Elena, 2017. "It's a matter of confidence: Institutions, government stability and economic outcomes," MPRA Paper 77546, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Mariano Tommasi & Germán Caruso & Carlos Scartascini, 2014. "Are We Playing the Same Game? The Economic Effects of Constitutions Depend on the Degree of Institutionalization," Working Papers 116, Universidad de San Andres, Departamento de Economia, revised Dec 2014.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Presidentialism; Separation of powers; Budget institutions; Government size; D72; D78; H61;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation
    • H61 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Budget; Budget Systems

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