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Vetoing and inaugurating policy like others do: evidence on spatial interactions in voter initiatives

Zareh Asatryan, Annika Havlik () and Frank Streif
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Frank Streif: ZEW Mannheim

Public Choice, 2017, vol. 172, issue 3, 525-544

Abstract: Abstract A sizeable literature studies strategic interactions between governments. In this paper, we ask whether, in the presence of direct democratic institutions, voters’ actions in vetoing a decision or inaugurating a policy by a binding initiative in their jurisdiction have spillover effects on the actions of voters in neighboring jurisdictions. We collect (and make available) data on 3300 initiatives in German towns from 2002 to 2014 and match these to panel data on the towns’ sociodemographic and fiscal characteristics. We apply an instrumental variables approach and find that a jurisdiction’s probability of hosting an initiative is positively driven by the neighbors’ direct democratic activity. The size of the estimated average effect peaks around a 20 km neighborhood—where a standard deviation change of neighbors’ activity increases the probability of hosting an initiative by 5 percentage points—then gradually declines and fades away after around 60 km. This effect is driven by spillovers in similar policy areas and by successful initiatives, and is stronger in towns with relatively more information flows (measured by newspaper consumption and commuter flows).

Keywords: Direct democracy; Spatial spillovers; Policy diffusion (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D72 D78 R50 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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Working Paper: Vetoing and Inaugurating Policy Like Others Do: Evidence on Spatial Interactions in Voter Initiatives (2016) Downloads
Working Paper: Vetoing and inaugurating policy like others do: Evidence on spatial interactions in voter initiatives (2015) Downloads
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