NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Issue Unbundling via Citizens' Initiatives

Timothy Besley, Stephen Coate

NBER Working Paper No. 8036
Issued in December 2000
NBER Program(s):   PE

The role of citizens' initiatives figures prominently in contemporary debates on constitutional change. A basic question is why are initiatives necessary in a representative democracy where candidates must already compete for the right to control policy? This paper offers one answer to this question. In a representative democracy, the bundling of issues together with the fact that citizens have only one vote, means that policy outcomes on specific issues may diverge far from what the majority of citizens want. In such circumstances, allowing citizens to put legislation directly on the ballot, permits the unbundling' of these issues, which forces a closer relationship between policy outcomes and popular preferences. To the extent that it is considered socially undesirable for outcomes on specific issues to stray too far from what the majority wants, this creates a role for citizens' initiatives.

download in pdf format
   (331 K)

email paper

This paper is available as PDF (331 K) or via email.

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w8036

Published: Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 2008. "Issue Unbundling via Citizens' Initiatives," International Quarterly Journal of Political Science, now publishers, vol. 3(4), pages 379-397, December. citation courtesy of

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Acemoglu and Jackson w17066 History, Expectations, and Leadership in the Evolution of Social Norms
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Data
People
About

Support
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us