This paper surveys the empirical research on fiscal institutions of the last three decades. The main results are: (i) Constitutional or statutory fiscal limitations have in most cases proved to be effective in cutting down public expenditure, revenue, and debt. (ii) Budgetary proce-dures matter as well. They might be less effective than constitutional or statutory rules, but in a situation where it is impossible to introduce such rules they might present a feasible second-best way to reach fiscal sustainability. (iii) Citizens demand fewer public services and a sounder fiscal policy in systems with direct legislation than in purely parliamentary systems. (iv) There is some evidence that fiscal federalism leads - ceteris paribus - to a smaller size of the government. There are also political institutions which have an impact on the public budg-ets, and there are some interactions between the different institutions.
balanced budget budgetary procedures fiscal federalism direct democracy public expenditure public debt