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How do Electoral Systems Affect Fiscal Policy? Evidence from State and Local Governments, 1890 to 2005

  • Patricia Funk
  • Christina Gathmann

Using a new data set on Swiss state and local governments from 1890 to today, we analyze how the adoption of proportional representation affects fiscal policy. We show that proportional systems shift spending toward broad goods (e.g. education and welfare benefits) but decrease spending on targetable goods (e.g. roads and agricultural subsidies). Our evidence does not suggest that proportional representation increases the overall size of government. We provide new evidence on the mechanism behind these estimates. We show that proportional elections lead to better political representation of left-wing parties, which are associated with more spending. Furthermore, proportional elections lead to higher political fragmentation. However, since political fragmentation increases spending in a plurality system only, proportional elections reduce spending through its more moderate effects of fractionalized parliaments.

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File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/portal/page/portal/DocBase_Content/WP/WP-CESifo_Working_Papers/wp-cesifo-2010/wp-cesifo-2010-02/cesifo1_wp2958.pdf
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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 2958.

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Date of creation: 2010
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2958
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  1. Philippe Aghion & Alberto Alesina & Francesco Trebbi, 2002. "Endogenous Political Institutions," NBER Working Papers 9006, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Tim Besley & Ian Preston, 2006. "Electoral bias and policy choice: theory and evidence," IFS Working Papers W06/03, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  3. Persson, Torsten & Roland, Gerard & Tabellini, Guido, 2007. "Electoral Rules and Government Spending in Parliamentary Democracies," Quarterly Journal of Political Science, now publishers, vol. 2(2), pages 155-188, May.
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  5. Alessandro Lizzeri & Nicola Persico, . ""The Provision of Public Goods Under Alternative Electoral Incentives''," CARESS Working Papres 98-08, University of Pennsylvania Center for Analytic Research and Economics in the Social Sciences.
  6. Tavares, Jose, 2004. "Does right or left matter? Cabinets, credibility and fiscal adjustments," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(12), pages 2447-2468, December.
  7. Stefano Gagliarducci & Tommaso Nannicini & Paolo Naticchioni, 2011. "Electoral Rules and Politicians' Behavior: A Micro Test," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 144-74, August.
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  9. Alesina, Alberto & Baqir, Reza & Easterly, William, 1999. "Public goods and ethnic divisions," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2108, The World Bank.
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  11. Davide Ticchi & Andrea Vindigni, 2010. "Endogenous Constitutions," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 120(543), pages 1-39, 03.
  12. Austen-Smith, David & Banks, Jeffrey., 1987. "Elections, Coalitions, and Legislative Outcomes," Working Papers 643, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  13. Aidt, T.S. & Dutta, Jayasri & Loukoianova, Elena, 2006. "Democracy comes to Europe: Franchise extension and fiscal outcomes 1830-1938," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 249-283, February.
  14. Assar Lindbeck & Jörgen Weibull, 1987. "Balanced-budget redistribution as the outcome of political competition," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 52(3), pages 273-297, January.
  15. Weingast, Barry R & Shepsle, Kenneth A & Johnsen, Christopher, 1981. "The Political Economy of Benefits and Costs: A Neoclassical Approach to Distributive Politics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(4), pages 642-64, August.
  16. David Austen-Smith, 2000. "Redistributing Income under Proportional Representation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(6), pages 1235-1269, December.
  17. Reza Baqir, 2002. "Districting and Government Overspending," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(6), pages 1318-1354, December.
  18. Bradbury, John Charles & Crain, W. Mark, 2001. "Legislative organization and government spending: cross-country evidence," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(3), pages 309-325, December.
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