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Signature Requirements and Citizen Initiatives: Quasi-Experimental Evidence from Germany

Author

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  • Felix Arnold
  • Ronny Freier

Abstract

Signature requirements are often used as hurdles to prevent overuse of public referenda. We evaluate the causal effect of lowering signature requirements on the number of observed citizen initiatives. Based on municipality-level data for Germany, we make use of legislative changes at specific population thresholds to build an identification strategy using a regression discontinuity design. We find that reducing the signature requirement by 1 percentage point increases the probability of observing an initiative by 8-10 percentage points. The results are robust to a variety of tests. Importantly, we go into great detail to rule out other potential confounders.

Suggested Citation

  • Felix Arnold & Ronny Freier, 2013. "Signature Requirements and Citizen Initiatives: Quasi-Experimental Evidence from Germany," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1311, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:diw:diwwpp:dp1311
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    File URL: http://www.diw.de/documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.424904.de/dp1311.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Stephan Litschig & Kevin Morrison, 2010. "Government spending and re-election: Quasi-experimental evidence from Brazilian municipalities," Economics Working Papers 1233, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Jun 2012.
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    3. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 2002. "Political Economics: Explaining Economic Policy," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262661314, January.
    4. Björn Tyrefors Hinnerich & Per Pettersson‐Lidbom, 2014. "Democracy, Redistribution, and Political Participation: Evidence From Sweden 1919–1938," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 82(3), pages 961-993, May.
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    6. Stefano Gagliarducci & Tommaso Nannicini, 2013. "Do Better Paid Politicians Perform Better? Disentangling Incentives From Selection," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 11(2), pages 369-398, April.
    7. Veronica Grembi & Tommaso Nannicini & Ugo Troiano, 2011. "Policy Responses to Fiscal Restraints: A Difference-in-Discontinuities Design," Working Papers 397, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
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    Cited by:

    1. Felix Arnold & Ronny Freier, 2015. "Signature requirements and citizen initiatives: Quasi-experimental evidence from Germany," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 162(1), pages 43-56, January.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    signature requirements; citizen initiatives; local referenda; municipality data; regression discontinuity design;

    JEL classification:

    • H0 - Public Economics - - General
    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • H79 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Other

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