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Elected Versus Appointed Policymakers: Evidence from City Treasurers

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  • Alexander Whalley

Abstract

This paper investigates whether methods of public official selection affect policymaking in cities. I draw on the unique characteristics of California's city referendum process to identify the causal effect of city treasurers' method of selection on their cities' debt management policies. I utilize a regression discontinuity strategy based on the effect of narrowly-passing appointive city treasurer referendums on city borrowing costs. The results indicate that appointive treasurers reduce a city's cost of borrowing by 13% to 23%. The results imply that if all cities in California with elected treasurers were to appoint them, total borrowing expenditures would be reduced by more than $20 million per year. Appointive city treasurers appear to reduce borrowing costs primarily through the refinancing of expensive debt at lower interest rates.

Suggested Citation

  • Alexander Whalley, 2010. "Elected Versus Appointed Policymakers: Evidence from City Treasurers," NBER Working Papers 15643, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15643
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    Cited by:

    1. Beach, Brian & Jones, Daniel B., 2016. "Business as usual: Politicians with business experience, government finances, and policy outcomes," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 131(PA), pages 292-307.
    2. 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.
    3. Brian Beach & Daniel Jones, 2016. "Business as usual: Politicians with business experience, government budgets, and policy outcomes," Working Papers 169, Department of Economics, College of William and Mary.
    4. Mu, Ren & Zhang, Xiaobo, 2014. "Do elected leaders in a limited democracy have real power? Evidence from rural China," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 17-27.
    5. Vlaicu, Razvan & Whalley, Alexander, 2016. "Hierarchical accountability in government," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 134(C), pages 85-99.
    6. Sutirtha Bagchi, 2017. "Does the Strength of Incentives Matter for Elected Officials? A Look at Tax Collectors," Villanova School of Business Department of Economics and Statistics Working Paper Series 34, Villanova School of Business Department of Economics and Statistics.
    7. Köthenbürger, Marko & Egger, Peter & Smart, Michael, 2013. "Do Electoral Rules Make Legislators Differently Responsive to Fiscal Transfers? Evidence from German Municipalities," Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 79972, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    8. Enikolopov, Ruben, 2014. "Politicians, bureaucrats and targeted redistribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 74-83.
    9. Razvan Vlaicu & Alexander Whalley, 2011. "Do housing bubbles generate fiscal bubbles?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 149(1), pages 89-108, October.
    10. Justin M. Ross, 2012. "Interjurisdictional Determinants of Property Assessment Regressivity," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 88(1), pages 28-42.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D7 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making
    • H1 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • H7 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations

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