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Patronage-Preserving Federalism? Legislative Malapportionment and Subnational Fiscal Policies in Argentina


  • Jorge P. Gordin

    () (GIGA Institute of Latin American Studies)


This paper builds on institutional analysis to generate new conclusions about the economic viability of federalism. It does so by suggesting that Weingast´s seminal model of marketpreserving federalism falls short of accounting for the poor fiscal performance of multitiered systems in the developing world. This theoretical deficiency stems to a large extent from the insufficient attention paid by this model to the institutional complexity of federal systems, particularly the public policy effects of legislative malapportionment. Subsequent to an analytical discussion of the potential public spending and distributive politics distortions resulting from overrepresentation, we offer preliminary empirical evidence from Argentina, a federation exhibiting one of the most decentralized fiscal systems in the world and severe imbalances in the territorial distribution of legislative and economic resources. The findings show not only that said imbalances lead to sub-optimal fiscal results but also that they have a mutually-reinforcing relationship with regionalized patronage.

Suggested Citation

  • Jorge P. Gordin, 2007. "Patronage-Preserving Federalism? Legislative Malapportionment and Subnational Fiscal Policies in Argentina," GIGA Working Paper Series 52, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:gig:wpaper:52

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hans Pitlik & Friedrich Schneider & Harald Strotmann, 2006. "Legislative Malapportionment and the Politicization of Germany's Intergovernmental Transfer System," Public Finance Review, , vol. 34(6), pages 637-662, November.
    2. Alberto Porto & Pablo Sanguinetti, 2001. "Political Determinants of Intergovernmental Grants: Evidence From Argentina," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 13(3), pages 237-256, November.
    3. Horiuchi, Yusaku, 2004. "Malapportionment and Income Inequality: A Cross-National Analysis," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 34(01), pages 179-183, January.
    4. Samuels, David & Snyder, Richard, 2001. "The Value of a Vote: Malapportionment in Comparative Perspective," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 31(04), pages 651-671, October.
    5. Weingast, Barry R, 1995. "The Economic Role of Political Institutions: Market-Preserving Federalism and Economic Development," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(1), pages 1-31, April.
    6. Gordin, Jorge P., 2006. "Intergovernmental Fiscal Relations," Journal of Public Policy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 26(03), pages 255-277, December.
    7. Atlas, Cary M, et al, 1995. "Slicing the Federal Government Net Spending Pie: Who Wins, Who Loses, and Why," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 624-629, June.
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    1. repec:gig:joupla:v:5:y:2013:i:1:p:127-150 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    Federalism; legislative malapportionment; subnational fiscal policies; patronage; Argentina;

    JEL classification:

    • A12 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Other Disciplines
    • H30 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - General
    • J18 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Public Policy

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