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Spending-Biased Legislators: Discipline Through Disagreement

Facundo Piguillem () and Alessandro Riboni ()

The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 2015, vol. 130, issue 2, 901-949

Abstract: We study legislators who have a present bias for spending: they want to increase current spending and procrastinate spending cuts. We show that disagreement in legislatures can lead to policy persistence that attenuates the temptation to overspend. Depending on the environment, legislators’ decisions to be fiscally responsible may either complement or substitute other legislators’ decisions. When legislators have low discount factors, their actions are strategic complements. Thus, changes of the political environment that induce fiscal responsibility are desirable as they generate a positive responsibility multiplier and reduce spending. However, when the discount factor is high, the same changes induce some legislators to free ride on others’ responsibility which may lead to higher spending. JEL Codes: D72-H00.

Date: 2015
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The Quarterly Journal of Economics is currently edited by Robert J. Barro, Lawrence F. Katz, Nathan Nunn, Andrei Shleifer and Stefanie Stantcheva

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