The Price of Populism: The Association between Directly Elected Mayors and Unit Expenditure in Local Government

  • Dana McQuestin University of Technology Sydney
  • Joseph Drew University of Technology Sydney, Institute for Public Policy and Governance
Keywords: directly elected mayors, DEM, local government, populism, unit expenditure


It would appear that directly elected Mayors have indeed become fashionable. However, few seem to have paused to ponder the pecuniary impact of directly elected Mayors on local government: Indeed there is no evidence at all from the Antipodes and much of the extant work is somewhat dated. We analyse a five year panel of data for New South Wales, Australia and find evidence of strong and statistically significant increased unit operational expenditure in local governments that employ the directly elected mayor model. We conclude by outlining the effect that this association might have on local government sustainability.


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