The political economy of cultural spending: evidence from Italian cities

  • Chiara Dalle NogareEmail author
  • Matteo Maria Galizzi
Original Article


We investigate the relationship between Italian municipalities’ spending on culture in the 1990s and 2000s and a number of political variables—such as a left/right dummy, an election-year dummy and a term-limit indicator—controlling, among other things, for economic and socio-demographic characteristics of the population, the level of human capital and instruction, proxies of social capital, the extent of private financing of cultural provisions and touristic and artistic relevance. We use a panel-data regression analysis and find that, indeed, some determinants of public expenditures on culture are political. In particular, we identify an electoral cycle in which the incumbent spends less on culture in an election year. This result is robust for variations in the empirical model accounting for both the persistence and spatial interdependence of cultural expenditures by municipalities.


Public cultural expenditure Political economy Local government 

JEL Classification

H44 H76 Z11 



We thank Fabio Padovano and IREF for the political data; ACRI for the data on cultural spending of Fondazioni Bancarie; Paolo Buonanno for the data on social capital; Elvia Melzani and Valentina Formenti for research assistance. We are grateful to two anonymous referees for their valuable comments and suggestions. We thank the participants of the 16th ACEI International Conference on Cultural Economics in Copenhagen, the XX SIEP Italian Conference on Public Economics in Pavia, and the annual research workshop at our Department for helpful comments and suggestions.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di Scienze EconomicheUniversity of BresciaBresciaItaly

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