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Do Absolute Majorities Spend Less?: Evidence from Germany

Author

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  • Ronny Freier
  • Christian Odendahl

Abstract

The number of parties in government is usually considered to increase spending. We show that this is not necessarily the case. Using a new method to detect close election outcomes in multi-party systems, we isolate truly exogenous variation in the type of government. With data from municipalities in the German state of Bavaria, we show in regression discontinuity-type estimations that absolute majorities spend more, not less, and increase the property tax rate. We also find weakly significant results for increases in debt. Politically, our results show that the mayor that heads an absolute majority of his own party gains the most, but the party itself does not.

Suggested Citation

  • Ronny Freier & Christian Odendahl, 2012. "Do Absolute Majorities Spend Less?: Evidence from Germany," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1239, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:diw:diwwpp:dp1239
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    File URL: http://www.diw.de/documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.407580.de/dp1239.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Fernando Ferreira & Joseph Gyourko, 2009. "Do Political Parties Matter? Evidence from U.S. Cities," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(1), pages 399-422.
    2. Imbens, Guido W. & Lemieux, Thomas, 2008. "Regression discontinuity designs: A guide to practice," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 615-635, February.
    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.
    4. Olle Folke, 2014. "Shades Of Brown And Green: Party Effects In Proportional Election Systems," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 12(5), pages 1361-1395, October.
    5. McCrary, Justin, 2008. "Manipulation of the running variable in the regression discontinuity design: A density test," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 698-714, February.
    6. Per Pettersson-Lidbom, 2001. "An Empirical Investigation of the Strategic Use of Debt," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(3), pages 570-583, June.
    7. Cook, Thomas D., 2008. ""Waiting for Life to Arrive": A history of the regression-discontinuity design in Psychology, Statistics and Economics," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 636-654, February.
    8. 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.
    9. Lee, David S., 2008. "Randomized experiments from non-random selection in U.S. House elections," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 675-697, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ade, Florian & Freier, Ronny, 2013. "Divided government versus incumbency externality effect—Quasi-experimental evidence on multiple voting decisions," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 1-20.
    2. Garmann, Sebastian, 2014. "Do government ideology and fragmentation matter for reducing CO2-emissions? Empirical evidence from OECD countries," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 1-10.
    3. 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.
    4. Bernard, René, 2017. "Political fragmentation and fiscal policy: Evidence from German municipalities," FiFo Discussion Papers - Finanzwissenschaftliche Diskussionsbeiträge 17-03, University of Cologne, FiFo Institute for Public Economics.
    5. Ellegård, Lina Maria, 2013. "Divided We Fall. Conflicts of Interests Regarding Fiscal Discipline in Municipal Hierarchies," Working Papers 2013:42, Lund University, Department of Economics.
    6. Freier, Ronny & Odendahl, Christian, 2015. "Do parties matter? Estimating the effect of political power in multi-party systems," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 80(C), pages 310-328.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    fiscal spending; local election; absolute majority; municipality data; regression discontinuity;

    JEL classification:

    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • H71 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • H72 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Budget and Expenditures
    • H74 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Borrowing

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