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Debt-sensitive Majority Rules

  • Becker, Johannes Gerd
  • Gersbach, Hans
  • Grimm, Oliver

We examine debt-sensitive majority rules. According to such a rule, the higher a planned public debt, the higher the parliamentary majority required to approve it. In a two-period model we compare debt-sensitive majority rules with the simple majority rule when individuals differ regarding their benefits from public-good provision. We establish the existence of Condorcet winners under debt-sensitive majority rules and derive their properties. We find that equilibrium debt-levels are lower under the debt-sensitive majority rule if preferences regarding public goods are sufficiently heterogeneous and if the impact of debt on future public-good provision is sufficiently strong. We illustrate how debt-sensitive majority rules act as political stabilizers in the event of negative macroeconomic shocks.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 7860.

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Date of creation: Jun 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7860
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  1. Zheng Song, 2009. "Rotten Parents and Disciplined Children: A Politico-Economic Theory of Public Expenditure and Debt," 2009 Meeting Papers 94, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  2. Barro, Robert J., 1979. "On the Determination of the Public Debt," Scholarly Articles 3451400, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  3. Hans Gersbach, 2009. "Democratic Mechanisms," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 7(6), pages 1436-1469, December.
  4. Gersbach, Hans & Kleinschmidt, Tobias, 2009. "Power to youth: Designing democracy for long-term well-being," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 158-172, September.
  5. Ulrich Erlenmaier & Hans Gersbach, 2001. "Flexible Majority Rules," CESifo Working Paper Series 464, CESifo Group Munich.
  6. Alan J. Auerbach, 2008. "Federal Budget Rules: The US Experience," NBER Working Papers 14288, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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