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On Government Centralization and Budget Referendums: Evidence from Switzerland

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  • Christoph A. Schaltegger
  • Lars P. Feld

Abstract

Previous theoretical and empirical research has shown that policymakers have an incentive to centralize government activities in order to weaken the com-petitive pressure of fiscal federalism. We propose and test a positive model of fiscal federalism in which centralization is less likely to occur where budget referendums are possible. The reason for this result is that budget referendums reduce the extent to which pro-centralization regions can commit to a low level of spending delegating the centralization choice to elected poli-cymakers. In addition, it reduces the ability of higher level policy-makers to attract additional responsibilities in order to gain policy discretion. Empi-rical findings from a panel data analysis for Swiss cantons from 1980 to 1998 support this hypothesis.

Suggested Citation

  • Christoph A. Schaltegger & Lars P. Feld, 2001. "On Government Centralization and Budget Referendums: Evidence from Switzerland," CESifo Working Paper Series 615, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_615
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Benno Torgler & Christoph A. Schaltegger, 2005. "The Determinants of Political Discussion: How Important are Audit Courts and Local Autonomy?," CREMA Working Paper Series 2005-28, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
    2. Gebhard Kirchgassner, 2002. "The effects of fiscal institutions on public finance: a survey of the empirical evidence," Chapters,in: Political Economy and Public Finance, chapter 9 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    3. Bruno S. Frey & Lars P. Feld, 2002. "Deterrence and Morale in Taxation: An Empirical Analysis," CESifo Working Paper Series 760, CESifo Group Munich.
    4. Libman, Alexander, 2010. "Internal centralization and international integration in the post-Soviet space," MPRA Paper 21882, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Thomas Döring & Jan Schnellenbach, 2011. "A tale of two federalisms: Germany, the United States and the ubiquity of centralization," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 22(1), pages 83-102, March.
    6. Lars P. Feld & Gebhard Kirchgässner, 2004. "Sustainable Fiscal Policy in a Federal System: Switzerland as an Example," Marburg Working Papers on Economics 200424, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
    7. Lars P. Feld & Bruno S. Frey, 2004. "Illegal, Immoral, Fattening or What?: How Deterrence and Responsive Regulation Shape Tax Morale," Marburg Working Papers on Economics 200426, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
    8. 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.
    9. Wohlgemuth, Michael & Sideras, Jörn, 2004. "Globalisability of Universalisability? How to apply the Generality Principle and Constitutionalism internationally," Freiburg Discussion Papers on Constitutional Economics 04/7, Walter Eucken Institut e.V..
    10. Lars P. Feld & Jan Schnellenbach & Christoph A Schaltegger, 2004. "On Government Centralization and Fiscal Referendums: A Theoretical Model and Evidence from Switzerland," Marburg Working Papers on Economics 200419, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
    11. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, "undated". "Direct Democracy: Designing a Living Constitution," IEW - Working Papers 167, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
    12. Lars P. Feld & Gebhard Kirchgässner, 2003. "The Role of Direct Democracy in the European Union," CESifo Working Paper Series 1083, CESifo Group Munich.
    13. Redoano, Michela & Scharf, Kimberly A., 2004. "The political economy of policy centralization: direct versus representative democracy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, pages 799-817.
    14. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, "undated". "The Role of Direct Democracy and Federalism in Local Power," IEW - Working Papers 209, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
    15. John G. Matsusaka, 2005. "Direct Democracy Works," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(2), pages 185-206, Spring.
    16. Gebhard Kirchgassner, 2002. "The effects of fiscal institutions on public finance: a survey of the empirical evidence," Chapters,in: Political Economy and Public Finance, chapter 9 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    17. Reiner Eichenberger & Mark Schelker, 2007. "Independent and competing agencies: An effective way to control government," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 130(1), pages 79-98, January.
    18. Matthias Benz & Alois Stutzer, 2004. "Are Voters Better Informed When They Have a Larger Say in Politics? -- Evidence for the European Union and Switzerland," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 119(1_2), pages 31-59, April.
    19. Gebhard Kirchgässner, 2002. "Auswirkungen der direkten Demokratie auf die öffentlichen Finanzen: Empirische Ergebnisse für die Schweiz," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 138(IV), pages 411-426, December.
    20. Fischer, Justina AV, 2009. "Development of Direct Democracy in Swiss Cantons between 1997 and 2003," MPRA Paper 16140, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    21. Stegarescu, Dan, 2004. "Economic Integration and Fiscal Decentralization: Evidence from OECD Countries," ZEW Discussion Papers 04-86, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    22. Dan Stegarescu, 2009. "The effects of economic and political integration on fiscal decentralization: evidence from OECD countries," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 42(2), pages 694-718, May.
    23. Frey, Bruno S., 2004. "Direct Democracy for a Living Constitution," Freiburg Discussion Papers on Constitutional Economics 04/5, Walter Eucken Institut e.V..

    More about this item

    Keywords

    centralization; fiscal federalism; budget referendums;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • H10 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - General
    • H70 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - General

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