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The Economic Effects of Direct Democracy – A First Global Assessment

  • Lawrence Blume
  • Jens Müller
  • Stefan Voigt

This is the first study that assesses the economic effects of direct democratic institutions on a cross country basis. Its results are based on up to six new measures produced to reflect the legislative basis for using direct democratic institutions as well as their factual use. In addition, a more general overall indicator is used. On the basis of these two different data sets only some of the results of the former intra-country studies are confirmed. An analysis based on the more general democracy index for 87 countries shows that a higher degree of direct democracy leads to lower budget deficits and higher government effectiveness. The effects on government expenditure, corruption and productivity have the expected signs but do not reach conventional levels of significance. A more fine grained analysis for a cross section of 88 countries based on the second data set shows that institutional detail matters a great deal. In particular, the mere possibility of drawing on direct-democratic institutions is often not sufficient to induce significant effects whereas the frequency of their factual use has a number of substantive effects on economic variables.

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File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/portal/page/portal/DocBase_Content/WP/WP-CESifo_Working_Papers/wp-cesifo-2007/wp-cesifo-2007-11/cesifo1_wp2149.pdf
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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 2149.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2149
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  1. Roubini, Nouriel & Sachs, Jeffrey D., 1989. "Political and economic determinants of budget deficits in the industrial democracies," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(5), pages 903-933, May.
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  3. Feld, Lars P. & Schaltegger, Christoph A. & Schnellenbach, Jan, 2008. "On government centralization and fiscal referendums," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(4), pages 611-645, May.
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  6. John G. Matsusaka, 2005. "Direct Democracy Works," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(2), pages 185-206, Spring.
  7. Nadia Fiorino & Roberto Ricciuti, 2007. "Determinants of Direct Democracy," CESifo Working Paper Series 2035, CESifo Group Munich.
  8. Feld, Lars P. & Voigt, Stefan, 2003. "Economic growth and judicial independence: cross-country evidence using a new set of indicators," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 497-527, September.
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  10. Anne van Aaken & Lars P. Feld & Stefan Voigt, 2008. "Power over Prosecutors Corrupts Politicians: Cross Country Evidence Using a New Indicator," CESifo Working Paper Series 2245, CESifo Group Munich.
  11. Matsusaka, John G, 2000. "Fiscal Effects of the Voter Initiative in the First Half of the Twentieth Century," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 43(2), pages 619-50, October.
  12. Matsusaka, John G, 1995. "Fiscal Effects of the Voter Initiative: Evidence from the Last 30 Years," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(3), pages 587-623, June.
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  15. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521894753 is not listed on IDEAS
  16. Feld, Lars P & Savioz, Marcel R, 1997. "Direct Democracy Matters for Economic Performance: An Empirical Investigation," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(4), pages 507-38.
  17. Beck, Thorsten & Clarke, George & Groff, Alberto & Keefer, Philip & Walsh, Patrick, 2000. "New tools and new tests in comparative political economy - the database of political institutions," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2283, The World Bank.
  18. Nouriel Roubini & Jeffrey Sachs, 1988. "Political and Economic Determinants of Budget Deficits in the IndustrialDemocracies," NBER Working Papers 2682, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Matsusaka, John G & McCarty, Nolan M, 2001. "Political Resource Allocation: Benefits and Costs of Voter Initiatives," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(2), pages 413-48, October.
  20. Feld, Lars P. & Matsusaka, John G., 2003. "Budget referendums and government spending: evidence from Swiss cantons," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(12), pages 2703-2724, December.
  21. Torgler, Benno, 2005. "Tax morale and direct democracy," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 525-531, June.
  22. Jessica Seddon Wallack & Alejandro Gaviria & Ugo Panizza & Ernesto Stein, 2003. "Particularism around the World," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 17(1), pages 133-143, June.
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