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Political Institutions and Policy Outcomes: What are the Stylized Facts?

  • Torsten Persson

    (IIES, Stockholm University)

  • Guido Tabellini

    (IGIER, Universita' Bocconi)

We investigate the effect of electoral rules and political regimes on fiscal policy outcomes in a panel of 61 democracies from 1960 and onwards. In presidential regimes, the size of government is smaller and less responsive to income shocks, compared to parliamentary regimes. Under majoritarian elections, social transfers are smaller and aggregate spending less responsive to to income shocks than under proportional elections. Institutions also shape electoral cycles; only in presidential regimes is fiscal adjustment delayed until after the elections, and only in proportional and parliamentary systems do social transfers expand around elections. Several of these empirical regularities are in line with recent theoretical work; others are still awaiting a theoretical explanation.

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Paper provided by Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area in its series Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) with number 412.

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Date of creation: Aug 2001
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Handle: RePEc:bdi:wptemi:td_412_01
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  1. Bohn, Henning & Inman, Robert P., 1996. "Balanced-budget rules and public deficits: evidence from the U.S. states," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 13-76, December.
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  20. Lars P. Feld & John G. Matsusaka, 2000. "Budget Referendums and Government Spending: Evidence from Swiss," CESifo Working Paper Series 323, CESifo Group Munich.
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