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Elected versus Appointed Policy Makers: Evidence from City Treasurers

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  • Alexander Whalley

Abstract

This paper investigates whether the method of selecting public officials affects policy making. I compare the policy choices of bureaucrat city treasurers and politician city treasurers, who are selected and held accountable in very different ways. The analysis draws on rich data from California to examine whether cities with appointed or elected city treasurers pay lower costs to borrow. The results demonstrate that having appointive treasurers reduces a city's cost of borrowing by 19-31 percent. Holding officials directly accountable to voters can result in lower levels of performance in complex policy areas.

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  • Alexander Whalley, 2013. "Elected versus Appointed Policy Makers: Evidence from City Treasurers," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 56(1), pages 39-81.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:doi:10.1086/668696
    DOI: 10.1086/668696
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    Cited by:

    1. Bagchi, Sutirtha, 2019. "The effects of political competition on the generosity of public-sector pension plans," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 164(C), pages 439-468.
    2. Köthenbürger, Marko & Egger, Peter & Smart, Michael, 2013. "Do Electoral Rules Make Legislators Differently Responsive to Fiscal Transfers? Evidence from German Municipalities," VfS Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 79972, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    3. Enikolopov, Ruben, 2014. "Politicians, bureaucrats and targeted redistribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 74-83.
    4. Beach, Brian & Jones, Daniel B., 2016. "Business as usual: Politicians with business experience, government finances, and policy outcomes," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 131(PA), pages 292-307.
    5. Stephan Geschwind & Felix Roesel, 2021. "Taxation under Direct Democracy," CESifo Working Paper Series 9166, CESifo.
    6. Leverty, J. Tyler & Grace, Martin F., 2018. "Do elections delay regulatory action?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 130(2), pages 409-427.
    7. Mark Partridge & Tim Sass, 2011. "The productivity of elected and appointed officials: the case of school superintendents," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 149(1), pages 133-149, October.
    8. Razvan Vlaicu & Alexander Whalley, 2011. "Do housing bubbles generate fiscal bubbles?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 149(1), pages 89-108, October.
    9. Brian Beach & Daniel Jones, 2016. "Business as usual: Politicians with business experience, government budgets, and policy outcomes," Working Papers 169, Department of Economics, College of William and Mary.
    10. Mu, Ren & Zhang, Xiaobo, 2014. "Do elected leaders in a limited democracy have real power? Evidence from rural China," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 17-27.
    11. Justin M. Ross, 2012. "Interjurisdictional Determinants of Property Assessment Regressivity," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 88(1), pages 28-42.
    12. Vlaicu, Razvan & Whalley, Alexander, 2016. "Hierarchical accountability in government," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 134(C), pages 85-99.
    13. Sutirtha Bagchi, 2017. "Does the Strength of Incentives Matter for Elected Officials? A Look at Tax Collectors," Villanova School of Business Department of Economics and Statistics Working Paper Series 34, Villanova School of Business Department of Economics and Statistics.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D7 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making
    • H1 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • H7 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations

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