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The Political Economy of Fiscal Policy: Survey

  • Marcela Eslava

This paper surveys the recent literature on the political economy of fiscal policy, in particular the accumulation of government debt. We examine three possible determinants of fiscal balances: opportunistic behavior by policymakers, heterogeneous fiscal preferences of either voters or politicians, and budget institutions. We focus on the contributions of the last 10 years and emphasize findings related to developing countries. We include a recent body of literature on the fiscal preferences of voters, which, interestingly, seems to suggest that voters do not favor high-spending governments. We also report some original empirical evidence. First, we test different hypotheses from the political economy literature in a simultaneous manner for a large set of both developed and developing countries. We find that less-fragmented governments and a greater ability of voters to monitor fiscal policy are related to lower deficits; the estimated effects are larger than when the two hypotheses are evaluated separately, as the existing literature does. Second, we suggest the role of the courts in the determination of fiscal policy as a promising new avenue of research, and present some suggestive novel evidence on the importance of this channel.

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Paper provided by Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department in its series Research Department Publications with number 4487.

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Date of creation: Oct 2006
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Handle: RePEc:idb:wpaper:4487
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  4. Ernesto H. Stein & Ernesto Talvi & Alejandro Grisanti, 1998. "Institutional Arrangements and Fiscal Performance: The Latin American Experience," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 6435, Inter-American Development Bank.
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  17. Carlos Mulas-Granados, 2003. "The Political and Economic Determinants of Budgetary Consolidation in Europe," European Political Economy Review, European Political Economy Infrastructure Consortium, vol. 1(Spring), pages 15-39.
  18. Peltzman, Sam, 1992. "Voters as Fiscal Conservatives," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(2), pages 327-61, May.
  19. Gupta, Sanjeev & Clements, Benedict & Baldacci, Emanuele & Mulas-Granados, Carlos, 2005. "Fiscal policy, expenditure composition, and growth in low-income countries," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 441-463, April.
  20. Talvi, Ernesto & Vegh, Carlos A., 2005. "Tax base variability and procyclical fiscal policy in developing countries," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(1), pages 156-190, October.
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  25. Crain, W. Mark & Tollison, Robert D., 1993. "Time inconsistency and fiscal policy : Empirical analysis of U.S. States, 1969-89," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 153-159, June.
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