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Do Large Cabinets Favor Large Governments? Evidence from Swiss Sub-federal Jurisdictions

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  • Christoph A. Schaltegger
  • Lars P. Feld

Abstract

The fiscal commons problem is one of the most prominent explanations of excessive spending and indebtedness in political economics. The more fragmented a government, the higher its spending, deficits and debt. In this paper we investigate to what extent this problem can be miti-gated by different fiscal or constitutional institutions. We distinguish between two variants of fragmented governments: cabinet size and coalition size. Theoretically, they both describe the degree to which the costs of spending decisions are internalized by individual decision-makers. In addition, we evaluate whether constitutional rules for executive and legislation as well as budget rules shape the size of government and how the different rules interact with fragmentation in de-termining government size. The empirical study of the role of fragmented governments for fiscal policy outcomes is based on a panel of the 26 Swiss cantons over the 1980-1998 period. The re-sults indicate that the number of ministers in the cabinet is negatively associated with fiscal disci-pline. Furthermore, the fiscal referendum does effectively restrict the fiscal commons problem, but less successfully than the budget rule.

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  • Christoph A. Schaltegger & Lars P. Feld, 2004. "Do Large Cabinets Favor Large Governments? Evidence from Swiss Sub-federal Jurisdictions," CREMA Working Paper Series 2004-15, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
  • Handle: RePEc:cra:wpaper:2004-15
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    Cited by:

    1. John Ashworth & Benny Geys & Bruno Heyndels, 2005. "Government Weakness and Local Public Debt Development in Flemish Municipalities," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 12(4), pages 395-422, August.
    2. Tjaša Bjedov & Simon Lapointe & Thierry Madiès, 2014. "The impact of within-party and between-party ideological dispersion on fiscal outcomes: evidence from Swiss cantonal parliaments," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 161(1), pages 209-232, October.
    3. Schaltegger, Christoph A. & Feld, Lars P., 2009. "Do large cabinets favor large governments? Evidence on the fiscal commons problem for Swiss Cantons," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(1-2), pages 35-47, February.
    4. Ciara Whelan & Patrick P. Walsh & Franco Mariuzzo, 2004. "EU merger control in differentiated product industries," Open Access publications 10197/138, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
    5. Schaltegger, Christoph A. & Feld, Lars P., 2009. "Are fiscal adjustments less successful in decentralized governments?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 115-123, March.
    6. Lars P. Feld & Gebhard Kirchgassner, 2006. "On the Effectiveness of Debt Brakes: The Swiss Experience," CREMA Working Paper Series 2006-21, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
    7. Reuter, Wolf Heinrich, 2019. "When and why do countries break their national fiscal rules?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 125-141.
    8. Christoph A. Schaltegger & Lars P. Feld, 2008. "Do Large Cabinets Favor Large Governments? Evidence on Institutional Restraints on the Fiscal Commons Problem for Swiss Cantons," CREMA Working Paper Series 2008-10, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Fragmentation; Fiscal Policy; Referendums; Legislative Rules; Budget Rules;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E61 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Policy Objectives; Policy Designs and Consistency; Policy Coordination
    • E63 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Comparative or Joint Analysis of Fiscal and Monetary Policy; Stabilization; Treasury Policy
    • H61 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Budget; Budget Systems

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