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Government Form and Public Spending: Theory and Evidence from U.S. Municipalities

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  • Stephen Coate
  • Brian Knight

Abstract

There are two main forms of government in U.S. cities: council-manager and mayor-council. This paper develops a theory of fiscal policy determination under these two forms. The theory predicts that expected public spending will be lower under mayor-council, but that either form of government could be favored by a majority of citizens. The latter prediction means that the theory is consistent with the co-existence of both government forms. Support for the former prediction is found in both a cross-sectional analysis and a panel analysis of changes in government form.

Suggested Citation

  • Stephen Coate & Brian Knight, 2009. "Government Form and Public Spending: Theory and Evidence from U.S. Municipalities," NBER Working Papers 14857, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14857
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    Cited by:

    1. Ruben Enikolopov, 2010. "Politicians, Bureaucrats and Targeted Redistribution: The Role of Career Concerns," Working Papers w0148, Center for Economic and Financial Research (CEFIR).
    2. Stefanie Gaebler & Felix Roesel, 2019. "Do direct elections matter? Quasi-experimental evidence from Germany," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 26(6), pages 1416-1445, December.
    3. Stephen Coate, 2014. "Optimal Fiscal Limits," NBER Working Papers 20643, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Gergely Ujhelyi, 2014. "Civil Service Rules and Policy Choices: Evidence from US State Governments," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 6(2), pages 338-380, May.
    5. Mark Partridge & Tim Sass, 2011. "The productivity of elected and appointed officials: the case of school superintendents," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 149(1), pages 133-149, October.
    6. Ruben Enikolopov, 2011. "Are Bureaucrats Really Paid Like Bureaucrats?," Working Papers w0165, Center for Economic and Financial Research (CEFIR).
    7. Akee, Randall & Jorgensen, Miriam & Sunde, Uwe, 2015. "Critical junctures and economic development – Evidence from the adoption of constitutions among American Indian Nations," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(4), pages 844-861.
    8. Alexander Whalley, 2013. "Elected versus Appointed Policy Makers: Evidence from City Treasurers," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 56(1), pages 39-81.
    9. Köthenbürger, Marko & Egger, Peter & Smart, Michael, 2013. "Do Electoral Rules Make Legislators Differently Responsive to Fiscal Transfers? Evidence from German Municipalities," VfS Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 79972, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    10. Ujhelyi, Gergely, 2017. "A köztisztviselői törvények hatása a kormányzati kiadásokra [The effects of civil-service legislation on government spending]," Közgazdasági Szemle (Economic Review - monthly of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences), Közgazdasági Szemle Alapítvány (Economic Review Foundation), vol. 0(9), pages 885-914.
    11. Ujhelyi, Gergely, 2014. "Civil service reform," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 15-25.
    12. Anke S. Kessler, 2014. "Communication in Federal Politics: Universalism, Policy Uniformity, and the Optimal Allocation of Fiscal Authority," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 122(4), pages 766-805.
    13. Jean Guillaume Forand, 2017. "Client Service and the Growth of Government," Working Papers 1704, University of Waterloo, Department of Economics, revised Sep 2017.
    14. Thompson, Paul N., 2017. "Effects of fiscal stress labels on municipal government finances, housing prices, and the quality of public services: Evidence from Ohio," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 98-116.
    15. Stephan Geschwind & Felix Roesel, 2021. "Taxation under Direct Democracy," CESifo Working Paper Series 9166, CESifo.
    16. Zohal Hessami, 2014. "Appointed Versus Elected Mayors and Incentives to Pork-Barrel: Quasi-Experimental Evidence from Germany," Working Paper Series of the Department of Economics, University of Konstanz 2014-23, Department of Economics, University of Konstanz.
    17. Garmann, Sebastian, 2015. "Elected or appointed? How the nomination scheme of the city manager influences the effects of government fragmentation," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 26-42.
    18. Vlaicu, Razvan & Whalley, Alexander, 2016. "Hierarchical accountability in government," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 134(C), pages 85-99.
    19. Enikolopov, Ruben, 2014. "Politicians, bureaucrats and targeted redistribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 74-83.
    20. Edward L. Glaeser, 2012. "Urban Public Finance," NBER Working Papers 18244, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    21. Peter Egger & Marko Koethenbuerger & Michael Smart, 2010. "Electoral rules and incentive effects of fiscal transfers: evidence from Germany," Working Papers 2010/44, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
    22. Blane Lewis, 2016. "Local political fragmentation: Fiscal and service delivery effects in Indonesia," Departmental Working Papers 2016-16, The Australian National University, Arndt-Corden Department of Economics.
    23. Phuong Nguyen-Hoang & Yilin Hou, 2014. "Local Fiscal Responses to Procyclical Changes in State Aid," Publius: The Journal of Federalism, Oxford University Press, vol. 44(4), pages 587-608.
    24. Coate, Stephen & Milton, Ross T., 2019. "Optimal fiscal limits with overrides," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 174(C), pages 76-92.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D7 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making
    • H7 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations

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