Discussion paper

DP2742 Electoral Rules and Public Spending

We study the effects of electoral institutions on the size and composition of public expenditure in OECD and Latin American countries. We emphasize the distinction between purchases of goods and services, which are easier to target geographically, and transfers, which are easier to target across social groups. We present a theoretical model in which voters anticipating government policymaking under different electoral systems have an incentive to elect representatives more prone to transfer (public good) spending in proportional (majoritarian) systems. The model also predicts higher total primary spending in proportional (majoritarian) systems when the share of transfer spending is high (low). After defining rigorous measures of proportionality to be used in the empirical investigation, we find considerable support for our predictions.


Milesi-Ferretti, G, R Perotti and M Rostagno (2001), ‘DP2742 Electoral Rules and Public Spending‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 2742. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp2742