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Comparative Politics and Public Finance


  • Torsten Persson
  • Gerard Roland
  • Guido Tabellini


We propose a model with micropolitical foundations to contrast different political regimes. Compared to a parliamentary regime, the institutions of a presidential-congressional regime produce fewer incentives for legislative cohesion but more separation of powers. These differences are reflected in the size and composition of government spending. A parliamentary regime has redistribution toward a majority, less underprovision of public goods, and more rents to politicians; a presidential-congressional regime has redistribution toward powerful minorities, more underprovision of public goods, but less rents to politicians. The size of government is smaller under a presidential regime. This last prediction is consistent with cross-country data.

Suggested Citation

  • Torsten Persson & Gerard Roland & Guido Tabellini, 2000. "Comparative Politics and Public Finance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(6), pages 1121-1161, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:108:y:2000:i:6:p:1121-1161

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Torsten Persson & Gérard Roland & Guido Tabellini, 1997. "Separation of Powers and Political Accountability," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1163-1202.
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    3. Persson, Torsten, 1998. "Economic Policy and Special Interest Politics," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(447), pages 310-327, March.
    4. Fershtman, Chaim & Judd, Kenneth L & Kalai, Ehud, 1991. "Observable Contracts: Strategic Delegation and Cooperation," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 32(3), pages 551-559, August.
    5. William Easterly & Ross Levine, 1997. "Africa's Growth Tragedy: Policies and Ethnic Divisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1203-1250.
    6. Timothy Besley & Stephen Coate, 1997. "An Economic Model of Representative Democracy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(1), pages 85-114.
    7. Alesina, Alberto & Rosenthal, Howard, 1996. "A Theory of Divided Government," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(6), pages 1311-1341, November.
    8. Anthony Downs, 1957. "An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65, pages 135-135.
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    10. Hart, Oliver, 1995. "Firms, Contracts, and Financial Structure," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198288817.
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    12. John Ferejohn, 1986. "Incumbent performance and electoral control," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 50(1), pages 5-25, January.
    13. repec:cup:apsrev:v:92:y:1998:i:03:p:593-609_21 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Chari, V V & Jones, Larry E & Marimon, Ramon, 1997. "The Economics of Split-Ticket Voting in Representative Democracies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(5), pages 957-976, December.
    15. Levitt, Steven D & Snyder, James M, Jr, 1997. "The Impact of Federal Spending on House Election Outcomes," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(1), pages 30-53, February.
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    17. Daniel Diermeier & Timothy J. Feddersen, 1996. "Disciplined Coalitions and Redistribution: The Effect of the Vote of Confidence Procedure on Legislative Bargaining," Discussion Papers 1171, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
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    JEL classification:

    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • H4 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods
    • D7 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making


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