Participatory Budgeting and Transparency in Municipal Finances

19 Pages Posted: 14 Sep 2016

See all articles by H. Crossman

H. Crossman

Brooklyn College; CUNY

Dov Fischer

CUNY Brooklyn College

Date Written: September 12, 2016


In the recessionary years following the 2008 financial crisis, prominent voices predicted an imminent crisis in state and municipal finances. The voices – including Bill Gates, Josh Ruah, Meredith Whitney, Paul Volcker, and Richard Ravitch – declared or implied that the road to fiscal responsibility lies in reining in the pensions and benefits of public servants. We argue that painting public employees as villains introduces divisiveness in what should be a universal goal of sound public finances. We suggest that the road to fiscal responsibility lies with budgetary transparency and widespread public knowledge of state and municipal finances. A potential key to achieving these objectives is participatory budgeting. We motivate a research question on the local government level: Does participatory budgeting increase transparency? Although it is too early to test this question on the local level, we use country-level data from the International Budgetary Partnership to explore ways to operationalize budgetary transparency in order to measure the association between participatory budgeting and budgetary transparency.

Keywords: Participatory budgeting, state and local governments, transparency, open budgets, open governments, citizen’s budgets, International Budget Project

JEL Classification: H5, H6, H7, H83

Suggested Citation

Crossman, H. and Fischer, Dov, Participatory Budgeting and Transparency in Municipal Finances (September 12, 2016). Journal of Accounting, Ethics and Public Policy, Vol. 17, No. 3, 2016, Available at SSRN:

H. Crossman

Brooklyn College ( email )

New York, NY
United States

CUNY ( email )

695 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10021
United States

Dov Fischer (Contact Author)

CUNY Brooklyn College ( email )

Brooklyn, NY NY - New York 11210
United States

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