Does 'participatory budgeting' lead to political patronage?

April 30, 2020

Participatory Budgeting began in Brazil in 1988 and then, in 2011, New York City adopted the practice, giving citizens an opportunity to determine priorities for public spending in their communities.

A study of the impact of this ongoing experiment in direct democracy was conducted by Professor Thad Calabrese of NYU Wagner. The analysis, just published in Administration & Society, suggests that the process for determining the use of city legislators' discrete pools of discretionary capital funds has the potential to be directed for political patronage instead.

Calabrese and co-authors Dan Williams of the City University of New York and Anubhav Gupta of the National University of Singapore (and NYU Wagner graduate) found that the capital funds allocated after the input of community members in New York City have been spread among a larger number of community-based organization in smaller amounts than was true before Participating Budgeting began.

At the same time, according to the article, there's been no increase in the aggregate amount of funds allocated within each council district, nor changes, as a result of the consultative process, in allocation categories.

The article, just published in Administration & Society, considers the possibility that Participatory Budgeting may be falling short of its promise of increasing input from residents marginalized from official budget decision making, by increasing their roles in determining how public money is spent. It suggests that legislative determination for the use the funds, or earmarking, and the increased number of smaller projects across legislators' districts, seem to suggest that Participating Budgeting can be co-opted by city legislators to dispense political patronage.

"The analyses here are mostly suggestive of the patronage role in the New York City participatory budgeting process," the researchers state. "That is, the results presented here are consistent with those predicted by patronage."

However, the findings do not argue that patronage is definitely going on, nor does it rule out the benefit that other researchers have highlighted -- that Participatory Budgeting can aid in empowering citizens and increasing democracy.

"Next steps in this analysis might involve determining whether smaller but more numerous capital projects meaningfully improve public service delivery or citizens' satisfaction with these services," they write.

To speak with Calabrese or obtain a copy of the article, titled "Does Participatory Budgeting Alter Public Spending? Evidence From New York City," contact the NYU press officer listed with this release.
-end-


New York University

Related Analysis Articles from Brightsurf:

Recognising fake images using frequency analysis
They look deceptively real, but they are made by computers: so-called deep-fake images are generated by machine learning algorithms, and humans are pretty much unable to distinguish them from real photos.

A data treasure for gait analysis
The St. Pölten UAS and the Austrian general accident insurance institution AUVA have made one of the biggest data records for automated gait analysis worldwide openly accessible.

Maggot analysis goes molecular for forensic cases
Maggots on a dead body or wound can help pinpoint when a person or animal died, or when maltreatment began in elder, child care or animal neglect cases.

Systems analysis for a new Arctic
A major new IIASA report highlights new and emerging policy trends in the Arctic, a region on the front lines of climate change, geopolitics, and global governance.

Analysis of human genomes in the cloud
Scientists from EMBL present a tool for large-scale analysis of genomic data with cloud computing.

Isotope analysis points to prisoners of war
Maya archaeologists from the University of Bonn found the bones of about 20 people at a water reservoir in the former Maya city of Uxul (Mexico).

Analysis of US life expectancy
Examining life expectancy in the United States over nearly 60 years and identifying factors that contributed to recent increases in mortality were the focus of this expansive report.

Analysis from the MYSTIC Trial
The relationship between gene alterations and response to An update from the Phase III MYSTIC study showed poorer outcomes across treatment arms in patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer and mutations in STK11 or KEAP1 genes compared with those without the corresponding mutations.

New efficient method for urine analysis may tell us more
Our urine reveals our well-being and how we treat our body.

Analysis and detoxification in one step
Many industrial and agriculture processes use chemicals that can be harmful for workers and the ecosystems where they accumulate.

Read More: Analysis News and Analysis Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.