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Fiscal Transparency, Gubernatorial Popularity, and the Scale of Government: Evidence from the States

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  • James E. Alt
  • David Dreyer Lassen
  • David Skilling

Abstract

We explore the effect of transparency of fiscal institutions on the scale of government and gubernatorial popularity using a formal model of accountability. We construct an index of fiscal transparency for the American states from detailed budgetary information. With cross-section data for 1986-1995, we find that - on average and controlling for other influential factors - fiscal transparency increases both the scale of government and gubernatorial popularity. The results, subjected to extensive robustness checks, imply that more transparent budget institutions induce greater effort by politicians, to which voters give higher job approval, on average. Voters also respond by entrusting greater resources to politicians where insittutions are more transparent, leading to larger size of government.

Suggested Citation

  • James E. Alt & David Dreyer Lassen & David Skilling, 2001. "Fiscal Transparency, Gubernatorial Popularity, and the Scale of Government: Evidence from the States," EPRU Working Paper Series 01-16, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:kud:epruwp:01-16
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Tanzi,Vito & Schuknecht,Ludger, 2000. "Public Spending in the 20th Century," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521662918, May.
    2. Sam Peltzman, 1992. "Voters as Fiscal Conservatives," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(2), pages 327-361.
    3. Timothy Besley & Anne Case, 1995. "Does Electoral Accountability Affect Economic Policy Choices? Evidence from Gubernatorial Term Limits," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(3), pages 769-798.
    4. Jeffrey Zax, 1989. "Initiatives and government expenditures," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 63(3), pages 267-277, December.
    5. Matsusaka, John G, 1995. "Fiscal Effects of the Voter Initiative: Evidence from the Last 30 Years," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(3), pages 587-623, June.
    6. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 2008. "Issue Unbundling via Citizens' Initiatives," Quarterly Journal of Political Science, now publishers, vol. 3(4), pages 379-397, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Timothy Besley & Anne Case, 2003. "Political Institutions and Policy Choices: Evidence from the United States," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 41(1), pages 7-73, March.
    2. Eiji Yamamura & Haruo Kondoh, 2013. "Government Transparency And Expenditure In The Rent-Seeking Industry: The Case Of Japan For 1998–2004," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 31(3), pages 635-647, July.
    3. Christian Bjørnskov & Niklas Potrafke, 2013. "The size and scope of government in the US states: does party ideology matter?," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 20(4), pages 687-714, August.
    4. Christian Bjørnskov & Niklas Potrafke, 2012. "Political Ideology and Economic Freedom Across Canadian Provinces," Eastern Economic Journal, Palgrave Macmillan;Eastern Economic Association, vol. 38(2), pages 143-166.
    5. Alt, James E. & Lassen, David Dreyer, 2006. "Fiscal transparency, political parties, and debt in OECD countries," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 50(6), pages 1403-1439, August.
    6. repec:prg:jnlefa:v:2017:y:2017:i:3:id:196:p:191-202 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Mark Schelker, 2012. "The influence of auditor term length and term limits on US state general obligation bond ratings," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 150(1), pages 27-49, January.

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