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Public expenditure decision making: A comparative analysis


  • Cusack, Thomas R.


An effort is made to draw out some of the fundamental distinctions amongst the many approaches to explaining government resource allocation behavior. The relative dominance of the environment and decision making imagery are suggested as two principal organizing dimensions. A brief survey of the literature demonstrates some of the principal themes that are apparent using this framework. Drawn from one of the many approaches, the Competing Aspiration Levels Model(CALM) is described and then applied to the recent budgetary history of twelve developed market systems. The results of the empirical analysis suggest that some features of the budgetary process in the U.S. make it quite distinctive relative to other industrialized democracies. In particular, it is shown that U.S. fiscal authorities are relatively less committed to balancing revenues and expenditures and that the military sector is more sensitive to international security calculations in the formulation of budgetary targets. Comparison of the results for the twelve countries studied also suggest little support for the hypothesis that wealth/predictability in the budgetary environment leads to greater use of incrementalist strategies. The results of the comparative analysis, however, do support the contention that the defense and civilian sectors are enmeshed in a competitive situation implying trade-offs between the two in spending levels.

Suggested Citation

  • Cusack, Thomas R., 1987. "Public expenditure decision making: A comparative analysis," Discussion Papers, various Research Units FGG dp 87-1, WZB Berlin Social Science Center.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:wzbdiv:fggdp871

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    7. Cusack, Thomas R., 1987. "Government budget processes," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, pages 325-458.
    8. Cameron, David R., 1978. "The Expansion of the Public Economy: A Comparative Analysis," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 72(4), pages 1243-1261, December.
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    10. Cusack, Thomas R., 1985. "Contention and Compromise: a Comparative Analysis of Budgetary Politics," Journal of Public Policy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 5(4), pages 497-519, October.
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    12. Karran, Terence, 1985. "The Determinants of Taxation in Britain: An Empirical Test," Journal of Public Policy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 5(3), pages 365-386, August.
    13. William D. Nordhaus, 1975. "The Political Business Cycle," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 42(2), pages 169-190.
    14. Wildavsky, Aaron, 1985. "A cultural theory of expenditure growth and (Un)balanced budgets," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 349-357, December.
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