Public Preferences for Government Spending Priorities: Survey Evidence from Germany
Employing data from a representative survey conducted in Germany, this paper examines public preferences for the size and composition of government expenditure. We focus on public attitudes toward taxes, public debt incurrence, and public spending in six different policy areas. Our findings suggest, first, that individual preferences for the use of additional tax money can be categorised as either capital-oriented expenditure or public debt reduction. Second, we find that fiscal preferences differ along various dimensions. Specifically, personal economic well-being, economic literacy, confidence in politicians, political ideology, and time preference are significantly related to individual attitudes toward public spending, taxes, and debt. The magnitude of the effects is particularly large for time preference, economic knowledge, and party preference. Third, public preferences for public spending priorities are only marginally affected when considering a public budget constraint.