Provision of Local Public Goods with Spillovers: Implications of Green Open Space Referenda
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Green open space is a popular amenity that contributes to the quality of life and ecological health of an area. In the last two decades green open space referenda have become a popular way of conserving land among subnational governments. The research conceptualizes green open space referenda as an information source that triggers inter municipal interactions. Three questions related to green open space referenda were examined in this dissertation. The research focused on two expenditures related questions. The effect of green open space referenda on own expenditures and the expenditures of neighboring governments was examined. The third question explored the mechanisms of policy diffusion active in the regional spread of green open space referenda. The study adopted a distinct research design for each of the three questions. The question on the diffusion mechanisms was addressed through qualitative research methodology, which included field interviews and content analysis in a case study area. The effect of referenda on own expenditures was examined through an interrupted time series research design. The effect of green open space referenda on neighbors’ expenditures was estimated using spatial regression methods. Conclusions from case study identify policy learning and incentives as dominant diffusion mechanisms for green open space referenda. In the case study area county governments were identified as leaders in initiating local government green open space policies. Empirical conclusions show that referenda positively affect the expenditures of local governments. Post referendum, there is an increase in the per capita expenditures on green space goods. The analysis shows that the presence of green open space referenda influences neighbors’ expenditures. However the magnitude of the effect varies over time and is contingent on inter municipal distance. County’s green open space program and previous county green open space referenda influence the reaction of neighboring governments. The study has found that green open space referenda encourage intermunicipal strategic interactions that have policy and expenditure implications.