New government spending must be approved by a referendum of citizens in many Swiss cantons. This decisionmaking procedure seems like a simple way to address citizen-legislator agency problems, but little systematic evidence is available concerning its effect on spending outcomes. We estimate spending regressions for Swiss cantons using panel data from 1986 to 1997. After controlling for demographics and other determinants of spending, mandatory referendums on new spending are found to reduce the size of the budget by 17% for the median canton.
Budget referendums initiatives government spending