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Political Institutions, Voter Turnout and Policy Outcomes

  • Eileen Fumagalli


    (IEFE - Bocconi University)

  • Gaia Narciso


    (Department of Economics, Trinity College Dublin)

The impact of political institutions on policy outcomes has gained much attention in the literature over the last years. The aim of this paper is to test whether the impact of constitutions on economic outcomes is direct. By introducing citizens' political participation, rather than politicians' incentives, as the driving force connecting institutions to policy outcomes, we empirically show that voter turnout is the channel through which forms of government affect economic policies. We provide evidence of the existence of two relationships. First, presidential regimes appear to be related to lower voter participation in national elections. Second, higher voter participation induces an increase in government expenditure, total revenues, welfare state spending, and budget deficit. We conclude that forms of government affect policy outcomes only through voter turnout.

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Paper provided by Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics in its series Trinity Economics Papers with number tep0211.

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Length: 31 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:tcd:tcduee:tep0211
Contact details of provider: Postal: Trinity College, Dublin 2
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  1. Aidt, Toke S. & Eterovic, Dalibor S., 2011. "Political competition, electoral participation and public finance in 20th century Latin America," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 181-200, March.
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  3. La Ferrara, Eliana & Alesina, Alberto, 2000. "Participation in Heterogeneous Communities," Scholarly Articles 4551796, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  4. Torsten Persson & Gerard Roland & Guido Tabellini, 2006. "Electoral Rules and Government Spending in Parliamentary Democracies," Levine's Working Paper Archive 321307000000000249, David K. Levine.
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  7. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why Do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output per Worker than Others?," NBER Working Papers 6564, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:117:y:2002:i:2:p:609-657 is not listed on IDEAS
  9. Alan Hamlin & Colin Jennings, 2009. "Expressive Political Behaviour: Foundations, Scope and Implications," Working Papers 0918, University of Strathclyde Business School, Department of Economics.
  10. Dennis C. Mueller & Thomas Stratmann, 2002. "The Economic Effects of Democratic Participation," CESifo Working Paper Series 656, CESifo Group Munich.
  11. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 2004. "Constitutional Rules and Fiscal Policy Outcomes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 25-45, March.
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  14. DHILLON, Amrita & PERALTA, Susana, . "Economic theories of voter turnout," CORE Discussion Papers RP 1563, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  15. Lijphart, Arend, 2001. "Democracy in the 21st century: can we be optimistic?," European Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 9(02), pages 169-184, May.
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  18. Alberto Alesina & Eliana La Ferrara, . "Participation in Heterogeneous Communities," Working Papers 151, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  19. Aidt, T.S. & Dutta, Jayasri & Loukoianova, Elena, 2006. "Democracy comes to Europe: Franchise extension and fiscal outcomes 1830-1938," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 249-283, February.
  20. Heckman, James J, 1978. "Dummy Endogenous Variables in a Simultaneous Equation System," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(4), pages 931-59, July.
  21. Husted, Thomas A & Kenny, Lawrence W, 1997. "The Effect of the Expansion of the Voting Franchise on the Size of Government," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(1), pages 54-82, February.
  22. Daron Acemoglu, 2005. "Constitutions, Politics and Economics: A Review Essay on Persson and Tabellini's "The Economic Effect of Constitutions"," NBER Working Papers 11235, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. Hillman, Arye L., 2010. "Expressive behavior in economics and politics," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 403-418, December.
  24. Stefano Gagliarducci & Tommaso Nannicini & Paolo Naticchioni, 2011. "Electoral Rules and Politicians' Behavior: A Micro Test," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 144-74, August.
  25. Jessica Seddon Wallack & Alejandro Gaviria & Ugo Panizza & Ernesto Stein, 2003. "Particularism around the World," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 17(1), pages 133-143, June.
  26. Roberto Perotti & Massimo V. Rostagno & Gian-Maria Milesi-Ferretti, 2001. "Electoral System and Public Spending," IMF Working Papers 01/22, International Monetary Fund.
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