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Is direct democracy a problem or a promise for fiscal outcomes? The case of the United States

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  • Agnese Sacchi
  • Aline Pennisi

Abstract

In time of worry for large deficits, the question on whether direct democracy can be a problem or a promise to better rule modern societies may arise. Both theoretical and empirical studies provide mixed answers. This paper investigates both the indirect (i.e. the existence) and the direct effects (i.e. the usage) of direct democracy institutions on major fiscal outcomes across the American States during 1992-2009. Being based on a more recent time span than previous contributions, our study includes more detailed information such as the type of institution, the voting result, and the topics of concern. The main results suggest that States permitting initiatives spend less than those without, confirming some previous findings. However, when initiatives are effectively used, their practice contributes to increase spending among those States allowing them. The intensity of different initiatives also matters for fiscal outcomes as well as the nature of topics involved.

Suggested Citation

  • Agnese Sacchi & Aline Pennisi, 2013. "Is direct democracy a problem or a promise for fiscal outcomes? The case of the United States," Departmental Working Papers of Economics - University 'Roma Tre' 0178, Department of Economics - University Roma Tre.
  • Handle: RePEc:rtr:wpaper:0178
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Voter initiatives; Fiscal policy; Positive constitutional economics; State government. (*);
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H71 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • H72 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Budget and Expenditures
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism
    • O51 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - U.S.; Canada

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