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Budget Transparency, Fiscal Performance, and Political Turnout: An International Approach

Authors

  • Bernardino Benito,

    Corresponding author
    1. University of Murcia
      Bernardino Benito is a professor of public sector accounting at the University of Murcia in Spain. He has more than 40 publications in national and international books and journals to his credit. He also has directed research programs related to the public sector, especially to the economy, efficiency, and effectiveness of the different services in this sector. He is a member of the team that established the basic guidelines for accounting reform in the European Union. E-mail:benitobl@um.es
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  • Francisco Bastida

    Corresponding author
    1. University of Murcia
      Francisco Bastida is a professor of public sector accounting at the University of Murcia in Spain. His scholarship focuses on public administration fi nancial analysis, and has appeared most recently in the International Review of Administrative Sciences and Public Administration. His current research focuses on the impact of transparency in government financial reporting on socioeconomic variables from an international perspective. E-mail:alba@um.es
    Search for more papers by this author

Bernardino Benito is a professor of public sector accounting at the University of Murcia in Spain. He has more than 40 publications in national and international books and journals to his credit. He also has directed research programs related to the public sector, especially to the economy, efficiency, and effectiveness of the different services in this sector. He is a member of the team that established the basic guidelines for accounting reform in the European Union. E-mail:benitobl@um.es

Francisco Bastida is a professor of public sector accounting at the University of Murcia in Spain. His scholarship focuses on public administration fi nancial analysis, and has appeared most recently in the International Review of Administrative Sciences and Public Administration. His current research focuses on the impact of transparency in government financial reporting on socioeconomic variables from an international perspective. E-mail:alba@um.es

Abstract

This paper attempts, for the first time, to assess the relationships between budget transparency, fiscal situation, and political turnout using a comparative international approach. With this aim, the authors build a comprehensive index of budget transparency encompassing 40 budget features based on international standards for a sample of 41 countries. They find a positive relationship between national government fiscal balance and budget transparency: The more information the budget discloses, the less the politicians can use fiscal deficits to achieve opportunistic goals. The univariate analysis shows a positive relationship between political turnout and transparency. This result gives some evidence of a positive answer to the question raised by James Alt and David Dreyer Lassen: Does transparency affect political outcomes such as turnout? To some extent, that the more transparent the budget reports are, the more incentives people have to vote. With respect to three variables—transparency, government fiscal balance, and electoral turnout—three clusters of countries arise: low transparency–fiscal imbalance, low transparency–small fiscal imbalance and high transparency–fiscal surplus.

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