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

  • Felix Arnold
  • Ronny Freier
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    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.

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    File URL: http://www.diw.de/documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.424904.de/dp1311.pdf
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    Paper provided by DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research in its series Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin with number 1311.

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    Length: 36 p.
    Date of creation: 2013
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:diw:diwwpp:dp1311
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    1. Stefano Gagliarducci & Tommaso Nannicini, 2008. "Do Better Paid Politicians Perform Better? Disentangling Incentives from Selection," Working Papers 346, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
    2. Imbens, Guido W. & Kalyanaraman, Karthik, 2009. "Optimal Bandwidth Choice for the Regression Discontinuity Estimator," IZA Discussion Papers 3995, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Grembi, Veronica & Nannicini, Tommaso & Troiano, Ugo, 2012. "Policy Responses to Fiscal Restraints: A Difference-in-Discontinuities Design," IZA Discussion Papers 6952, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Peter Egger & Marko Koethenbuerger, 2010. "Government Spending and Legislative Organization: Quasi-experimental evidence from Germany," EPRU Working Paper Series 2010-09, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    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. 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.
    7. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 2002. "Political Economics: Explaining Economic Policy," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262661314, June.
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