Executive Authority, the Personal Vote, and Budget Authority in Latin America and Caribbean Countries

Mark Hallerberg and Patrik Marier (2004)
American Journal of Political Science, 48(3): 571-587.


Recent scholarship on budgeting in Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) countries indicates that political institutions impact the level of budget discipline. Building upon this previous research, we argue that the principal problem that must be addressed in both the government and the legislature to insure strong fiscal discipline is the common pool resource (CPR) problem. At the cabinet level, the CPR problem arises because ministers consider the implications of decisions on their ministries only. The level of the CPR problem in the legislature depends upon the electoral system. Using a data set of LAC countries for the period 1988–97, we find that executive power in the budget process is most effective in reducing budget deficits when electoral incentives for the personal vote is high in the legislature, while strengthening the president (or prime minister) in countries where the personal vote is low in the legislature has no effect.