IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

The Fiscal Consequences of Electoral Institutions

  • Christopher R. Berry
  • Jacob E. Gersen
Registered author(s):

    There are more than 500,000 elected officials in the United States, 96 percent of whom serve in local governments. Electoral density—the number of elected officials per capita or per governmental unit—varies greatly from place to place. The most electorally dense county has more than 20 times the average number of elected officials per capita. In this paper, we offer the first systematic investigation of the link between electoral density and fiscal policy. Drawing on principal-agent theories of representation, we argue that electoral density presents a tradeoff between accountability and monitoring costs. Increasing the number of specialized elected offices promotes issue unbundling, reducing slack between citizen preferences and government policy; but the costs of monitoring a larger number of officials may offset these benefits, producing greater latitude for politicians to pursue their own goals at the expense of citizen interests. Thus, we predict diminishing returns to electoral density, suggesting a U-shaped relationship between the number of local officials and government fidelity to citizen preferences. Using a county-level dataset of all elected officials in the United States, we evaluate this theory along with competing theories from the existing literature. Empirically, we find evidence that public sector size decreases with electoral density up to a point, beyond which budgets grow as more officials are added within a community.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL: http://harrisschool.uchicago.edu/about/publications/working-papers/pdf/wp_07_13.pdf
    Our checks indicate that this address may not be valid because: 404 Not Found (http://harrisschool.uchicago.edu/about/publications/working-papers/pdf/wp_07_13.pdf [301 Moved Permanently]--> http://harris.uchicago.edu/index.php?q=about/publications/working-papers/pdf/wp_07_13.pdf [301 Moved Permanently]--> http://harris.uchicago.edu/about/publications/working-papers/pdf/wp_07_13.pdf). If this is indeed the case, please notify (Eleanor Cartelli)


    Download Restriction: no

    Paper provided by Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago in its series Working Papers with number 0713.

    as
    in new window

    Length:
    Date of creation: May 2007
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:har:wpaper:0713
    Contact details of provider: Postal: 1155 East 60th Street, Chicago, IL 60637
    Phone: 773-702-8400
    Web page: http://harrisschool.uchicago.edu/Email:


    More information through EDIRC

    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:har:wpaper:0713. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Eleanor Cartelli)

    The email address of this maintainer does not seem to be valid anymore. Please ask Eleanor Cartelli to update the entry or send us the correct address

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.