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The Causes of Fiscal Transparency: Evidence from the American States

  • James E. Alt

    (Department of Government, Harvard University)

  • David Dreyer Lassen

    (Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen)

  • Shanna Rose

    (Department of Political Science, State University of New York (SUNY) - Stony Brook)

We use unique panel data on the evolution of transparent budget procedures in the American states over the past three decades to explore the political and economic determinants of fiscal transparency. Our case studies and quantitative analysis suggest that both politics and fiscal policy outcomes influence the level of transparency. More equal political competition and power sharing are associated with both greater levels of fiscal transparency and increases in fiscal transparency during the sample period. Political polarization and past fiscal conditions, in particular state government debt and budget imbalance, also appear to affect the level of transparency.

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Paper provided by Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics in its series EPRU Working Paper Series with number 06-02.

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Length: 30 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:kud:epruwp:06-02
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  1. F. Andrew Hanssen, 2004. "Is There a Politically Optimal Level of Judicial Independence?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 712-729, June.
  2. Andrea Prat, 2002. "The Wrong Kind of Transparency," STICERD - Theoretical Economics Paper Series 439, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  3. Kenneth Rogoff, 1987. "Equilibrium Political Budget Cycles," NBER Working Papers 2428, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Alessandro Gavazza & Alessandro Lizzeri, 2009. "Transparency and Economic Policy," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 76(3), pages 1023-1048.
  5. Gian-Maria Milesi-Ferretti, 2000. "Good, Bad or Ugly?on the Effects of Fiscal Rules with Creative Accounting," IMF Working Papers 00/172, International Monetary Fund.
  6. Judson, Ruth A. & Owen, Ann L., 1999. "Estimating dynamic panel data models: a guide for macroeconomists," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 9-15, October.
  7. Persson, Torsten & Roland, Gerard & Tabellini, Guido, 1997. "Separation of Powers and Political Accountability," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1163-1202, November.
  8. Oecd, 2001. "OECD Best Practices for Budget Transparency," OECD Journal on Budgeting, OECD Publishing, vol. 1(3), pages 7-14.
  9. Assar Lindbeck & Jörgen Weibull, 1987. "Balanced-budget redistribution as the outcome of political competition," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 52(3), pages 273-297, January.
  10. George Kopits & J. D. Craig, 1998. "Transparency in Government Operations," IMF Occasional Papers 158, International Monetary Fund.
  11. Tim Besley, 2002. "Political institutions and policy choices: evidence from the United States," IFS Working Papers W02/13, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  12. Alesina, Alberto & Perotti, Roberto, 1996. "Fiscal Discipline and the Budget Process," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 401-07, May.
  13. Petra M. Geraats, 2002. "Central Bank Transparency," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(483), pages 532-565, November.
  14. Murray Petrie, 2003. "Promoting Fiscal Transparency the Complementary Roles of the Imf, Financial Markets and Civil Society," IMF Working Papers 03/199, International Monetary Fund.
  15. Alberto Alesina & Allan Drazen, 1989. "Why are Stabilizations Delayed?," NBER Working Papers 3053, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Gelos, Gaston & Wei, Shang-Jin, 2004. "Transparency and International Portfolio Holdings," CEPR Discussion Papers 4476, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  17. Robert Barro, 1973. "The control of politicians: An economic model," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 14(1), pages 19-42, March.
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