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The Effect of Direct Democratic Institutions on Income Redistribution: Evidence for Switzerland




There is an intensive dispute in political economics about the impact of institutions on income redistribution. While the main focus is on comparison between different forms of representative democracy, the influence of direct democracy on redistribution has attracted much less attention. In this paper, employing both a composite index and measures of single institutions, we find that direct democracy is particularly associated with lower welfare spending. Moreover, we estimate a model which explains the determinants of achieved redistribution measured by Gini coefficients using panel data provided by the Swiss Federal Tax Office from 1981 to 1997. While our results indicate that less public funds are used to redistribute income and actual redistribution is lower, inequality is not reduced to a lesser extent in direct than in representative democracies for a given initial income distribution.

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  • Feld, Lars P. & Fischer, Justina A.V. & Kirchgaessner, Gebhard, 2007. "The Effect of Direct Democratic Institutions on Income Redistribution: Evidence for Switzerland," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 689, Stockholm School of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:hastef:0689 Note: completely revised version of CESifo working paper No. 1837, published in 2006

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Ilja Neustadt & Peter Zweifel, 2010. "Is the Welfare State Sustainable? Experimental Evidence on Citizens’ Preferences for Redistribution," SOI - Working Papers 1003, Socioeconomic Institute - University of Zurich.
    2. Fischer, Justina AV, 2009. "Development of Direct Democracy in Swiss Cantons between 1997 and 2003," MPRA Paper 16140, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item


    Income Redistribution; Direct Democracy; Referendums; Initiatives;

    JEL classification:

    • D70 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - General
    • D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation
    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • H75 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Government: Health, Education, and Welfare
    • I30 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General

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