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Allocating government budgets according to citizen preferences: a cross-national survey

Nils Soguel (IDHEAP- Swiss Graduate School of Public Administration, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland)
Eugenio Caperchione (Department of Economics, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy)
Sandra Cohen (Department of Business Administration, Athens University of Economics and Business, Athens, Greece)

Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting & Financial Management

ISSN: 1096-3367

Article publication date: 24 June 2020

Issue publication date: 13 October 2020




The goal of this exploratory study was to investigate if, when asked to state their preferences for the allocation of public monies toward broad governmental functions, individuals state them at random or if their choice follows some rational pattern that can be traced using explanatory variables.


The paper presents the results of a survey conducted in Greece, Italy and Switzerland where the contingent allocation method was applied to a hypothetical allocation scenario of public monies to the functions of the government.


Findings based on 428 answers revealed that individuals were able to state their preferences for the various functions of the government as well as discriminate between the relative utility of each task and that the country context and personal characteristics significantly influence the respondents' allocations.


From a policy perspective, understanding citizen preferences in budget allocation may help governments rationalize the spending of public money.



We are indebted to all those who took the time to participate in the survey; to Sandro Brunelli for his contribution in administering the questionnaire; to the editor and the two anonymous reviewers for their insighful suggestions; to Yves Ammann for his computing assistance; and to Michelle Bailat-Jones for her editing assistance.


Soguel, N., Caperchione, E. and Cohen, S. (2020), "Allocating government budgets according to citizen preferences: a cross-national survey", Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting & Financial Management, Vol. 32 No. 3, pp. 487-504.



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