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Political Institutions, Voter Turnout and Policy Outcomes

  • Eileen Fumagalli and Gaia Narciso

We question whether the impact of constitutions on economic outcomes (Persson and Tabellini, 2004) is direct. We show that voter turnout is a channel through which forms of government affect economic policies. We provide evidence of the existence of two relationships: the first links constitutions to voter turnout; the second connects voter turnout to policy outcomes. Presidential regimes are found to induce less voter participation in national elections. We then analyze the impact of constitutional variables and voter participation in shaping fiscal policies. Forms of governments lose their explanatory power once participation is accounted for. Higher participation induces an increase in government expenditure, total revenues and welfare state spending. We conclude that forms of government affect policy outcomes through electoral participation.

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Paper provided by IIIS in its series The Institute for International Integration Studies Discussion Paper Series with number iiisdp268.

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Date of creation: 14 Nov 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iis:dispap:iiisdp268
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  1. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 2004. "Constitutional Rules and Fiscal Policy Outcomes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 25-45, March.
  2. Aidt, T.S. & Daunton, M. & Dutta, J., 2008. "The Retrenchment Hypothesis and the Extension of the Franchise in England and Wales," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0818, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  3. Dennis C. Mueller & Thomas Stratmann, 2002. "The Economic Effects of Democratic Participation," CESifo Working Paper Series 656, CESifo Group Munich.
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  6. Stefano Gagliarducci & Tommaso Nannicini & Paolo Naticchioni, 2007. "Electoral Rules And Politicians' Behavior: A Micro Test," Working Papers wp2007_0716, CEMFI.
  7. Torsten Persson & Gerard Roland & Guido Tabellini, 2006. "Electoral Rules and Government Spending in Parliamentary Democracies," Levine's Working Paper Archive 321307000000000706, David K. Levine.
  8. Francesco Giavazzi & Guido Tabellini, 2004. "Economic and Political Liberalizations," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000000724, UCLA Department of Economics.
  9. Jessica Seddon Wallack & Alejandro Gaviria & Ugo Panizza & Ernesto H. Stein, 2002. "Political Particularism around the World," Research Department Publications 4289, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  10. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1369-1401, December.
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  12. La Ferrara, Eliana & Alesina, Alberto, 2000. "Participation in Heterogeneous Communities," Scholarly Articles 4551796, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  13. Torsten Persson & Gerard Roland & Guido Tabellini, . "Separation of Powers and Political Accountability," Working Papers 100, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  14. Daron Acemoglu, 2005. "Constitutions, Politics and Economics: A Review Essay on Persson and Tabellini's "The Economic Effect of Constitutions"," NBER Working Papers 11235, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Heckman, James J, 1978. "Dummy Endogenous Variables in a Simultaneous Equation System," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(4), pages 931-59, July.
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  17. Anthony Downs, 1957. "An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65, pages 135.
  18. DHILLON, Amrita & PERALTA, Susana, . "Economic theories of voter turnout," CORE Discussion Papers RP 1563, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  19. Aidt, T.S. & Dutta, Jayasri & Loukoianova, Elena, 2006. "Democracy comes to Europe: Franchise extension and fiscal outcomes 1830-1938," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 249-283, February.
  20. Alessandro Lizzeri & Nicola Persico, . ""The Provision of Public Goods Under Alternative Electoral Incentives''," CARESS Working Papres 98-08, University of Pennsylvania Center for Analytic Research and Economics in the Social Sciences.
  21. Hillman, Arye L., 2010. "Expressive behavior in economics and politics," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 403-418, December.
  22. Lijphart, Arend, 2001. "Democracy in the 21st century: can we be optimistic?," European Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 9(02), pages 169-184, May.
  23. Alan Hamlin & Colin Jennings, 2009. "Expressive Political Behaviour: Foundations, Scope and Implications," Working Papers 0918, University of Strathclyde Business School, Department of Economics.
  24. Alberto Alesina & Eliana La Ferrara, 1999. "Participation in Heterogeneous Communities," NBER Working Papers 7155, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. Husted, Thomas A & Kenny, Lawrence W, 1997. "The Effect of the Expansion of the Voting Franchise on the Size of Government," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(1), pages 54-82, February.
  26. Roberto Perotti & Massimo V. Rostagno & Gian-Maria Milesi-Ferretti, 2001. "Electoral System and Public Spending," IMF Working Papers 01/22, International Monetary Fund.
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