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The impact of referendums on the centralisation of public goods provision: a political economy approach

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  • Jan Schnellenbach
  • Lars Feld
  • Christoph Schaltegger

Abstract

The paper compares decision-making on the centralisation of public goods provision in the presence of regional externalities under representative and direct democratic institutions. A model with two regions, two public goods and regional spillovers is developed in which uncertainty over the true preferences of candidates makes strategic delegation impossible. Instead, it is shown that the existence of rent extraction by delegates alone suffices to make cooperative centralisation more likely through representative democracy. In the non-cooperative case, the more extensive possibilities for institutional design under representative democracy increase the likelihood of centralisation. Direct democracy may thus be interpreted as a federalism-preserving institution.
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Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:ecogov:v:11:y:2010:i:1:p:3-26
    DOI: 10.1007/s10101-009-0063-1
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Martin Gregor, 2012. "Modeling positive inter-jurisdictional public spending spillovers," Working Papers IES 2012/16, Charles University Prague, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute of Economic Studies, revised Jun 2012.
    2. Lars Feld, 2014. "James Buchanan’s theory of federalism: from fiscal equity to the ideal political order," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 25(3), pages 231-252, September.
    3. Galletta, Sergio & Jametti, Mario, 2015. "How to tame two Leviathans? Revisiting the effect of direct democracy on local public expenditure in a federation," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 82-93.
    4. Libman, Alexander, 2010. "Constitutions, regulations, and taxes: Contradictions of different aspects of decentralization," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(4), pages 395-418, December.
    5. Niklas Potrafke, 2013. "Evidence on the political principal-agent problem from voting on public finance for concert halls," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 24(3), pages 215-238, September.
    6. Libman, Alexander, 2008. "Endogenous (De)Centralization and the Russian Federalism," Applied Econometrics, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA), vol. 9(1), pages 23-57.
    7. Di Liddo, Giuseppe, 2017. "Are local agreements on equalization grants possible? A bargaining model with quasi-linear local preferences on local public goods," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 153(C), pages 9-11.
    8. Lars P. Feld & Justina A.V. Fischer & Gebhard Kirchgässner, 2010. "The Effect Of Direct Democracy On Income Redistribution: Evidence For Switzerland," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 48(4), pages 817-840, October.
    9. Feld, Lars P. & Fischer, Justina A.V. & Kirchgaessner, Gebhard, 2007. "The Effect of Direct Democratic Institutions on Income Redistribution: Evidence for Switzerland," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 689, Stockholm School of Economics.
    10. Martin Gregor & Lenka Stastna, 2012. "The decentralization tradeoff for complementary spillovers," Review of Economic Design, Springer;Society for Economic Design, vol. 16(1), pages 41-69, March.
    11. Martin Gregor, 2016. "A three-stage model of inter-jurisdictional public spending spillovers," Letters in Spatial and Resource Sciences, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 201-217, July.
    12. Lorenz Blume & Stefan Voigt, 2011. "Federalism and decentralization—a critical survey of frequently used indicators," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 22(3), pages 238-264, September.
    13. Janos Feidler & Klaas Staal, 2012. "Centralized and decentralized provision of public goods," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 13(1), pages 73-93, March.
    14. Libman, Alexander Mikhailovich, 2009. "Эндогенные Границы И Распределение Власти В Федерациях И Международных Сообществах [ENDOGENOUS BOUNDARIES AND DISTRIBUTION OF POWER In the Federation]," MPRA Paper 16473, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    15. Lisa Grazzini & Alessandro Petretto, 2012. "Voting on devolution in a federal country with a bicameral national system," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 13(1), pages 51-72, March.
    16. Libman, Alexander, 2009. "Constitutions, Regulations, and Taxes: Contradictions of Different Aspects of Decentralization," MPRA Paper 15854, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    17. Thushyanthan Baskaran & Lars P. Feld & Jan Schnellenbach, 2014. "Fiscal Federalism, Decentralization and Economic Growth: Survey and Meta-Analysis," CESifo Working Paper Series 4985, CESifo.
    18. Thomas Döring & Jan Schnellenbach, 2011. "A tale of two federalisms: Germany, the United States and the ubiquity of centralization," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 22(1), pages 83-102, March.
    19. Sergio Galletta, 2020. "Direct democracy, partial decentralization and voter information: evidence from Swiss municipalities," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 27(5), pages 1174-1197, October.
    20. Alexander Libman, 2015. "Words or deeds: what matters? On the role of symbolic action in political decentralization," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 49(3), pages 801-838, November.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Centralisation; Direct democracy; Representative democracy; Public good provision; H11; H77; H72; H73;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • H77 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Intergovernmental Relations; Federalism
    • H72 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Budget and Expenditures
    • H73 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Interjurisdictional Differentials and Their Effects

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