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Do Large Cabinets Favor Large Governments? Evidence on Institutional Restraints on the Fiscal Commons Problem for Swiss Cantons

Listed author(s):
  • Christoph A. Schaltegger
  • Lars P. Feld

The fiscal commons problem is one of the most prominent explanations of excessive spending in political economics. The more fragmented a government, the higher its spending. In this paper we investigate to what extent this problem can be mitigated by different fiscal or constitutional insti-tutions. We distinguish between two variants of fragmented governments: cabinet size and coali-tion size. In addition, we analyze whether constitutional rules for executive and legislature as well as formal fiscal restraints shape the size of government and how different rules interact with fragmentation in determining government size. The empirical analysis of the role of fragmented governments for fiscal policy outcomes is based on a panel of 26 Swiss cantons from 1980-1998. The results indicate that the number of ministers in the cabinet is negatively associated with fiscal discipline. Furthermore, fiscal referendums effectively restrict the size of government, while for-mal fiscal restraints more effectively restrict the fiscal commons problem. (This is a thoroughly revised version of Crema WP Nr. 2004-15)

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Paper provided by Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA) in its series CREMA Working Paper Series with number 2008-10.

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Date of creation: Apr 2008
Handle: RePEc:cra:wpaper:2008-10
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  1. Edin, P-A. & Ohlsson, H., 1990. "Political Determinants Of Budget Deficits: Coalition Effects Versus Minority Effects," Papers 1990k, Uppsala - Working Paper Series.
  2. Christoph A. Schaltegger & Lars P. Feld, 2004. "Do Large Cabinets Favor Large Governments? Evidence from Swiss Sub-Federal Jurisdictions," CESifo Working Paper Series 1294, CESifo Group Munich.
  3. Jakob De Haan & Jan-Egbert Sturm, 2000. "Do financial markets and the Maastricht Treaty discipline governments? New evidence," Applied Financial Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(2), pages 221-226.
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  10. de Haan, Jakob & Sturm, Jan-Egbert, 1994. "Political and Institutional Determinants of Fiscal Policy in the European Community," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 80(1-2), pages 157-172, July.
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  12. Stephan Danninger, 2002. "A New Rule; The Swiss Debt Brake," IMF Working Papers 02/18, .
  13. 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 642-664, August.
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  17. Gilligan, Thomas W. & Matsusaka, John G., 2001. "Fiscal Policy, Legislature Size, and Political Parties: Evidence From State and Local Governments in the First Half of the 20th Century," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 54(1), pages 57-82, March.
  18. George J. Stigler, 1971. "The Theory of Economic Regulation," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 2(1), pages 3-21, Spring.
  19. 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.
  20. James M. Poterba & Jürgen von Hagen, 1999. "Introduction to "Fiscal Institutions and Fiscal Performance"," NBER Chapters, in: Fiscal Institutions and Fiscal Performance, pages 1-12 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Timothy Besley & Anne Case, 1993. "Does Electoral Accountability Affect Economic Policy Choices? Evidence from Gubernatorial Term Limits," NBER Working Papers 4575, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Inman, Robert P & Fitts, Michael A, 1990. "Political Institutions and Fiscal Policy: Evidence from the U.S. Historical Record," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(0), pages 79-132.
  23. 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.
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