The Difference in Design: Participatory Budgeting in Brazil and the United States

Article/Op-Ed in Journal of Public Deliberation
April 23, 2019

Hollie Russon Gilman co-wrote an article for the Journal of Public Deliberation comparing participatory budgeting in Brazil and the United States.

Participatory Budgeting (PB) is conceptually powerful because it ties the normative values of non-elite participation and deliberation to specific policymaking processes. It is a democratic policymaking process that enables citizens to allocate public monies. PB has spread globally, coming to the United States in 2009. Our analysis shows that the types of institutional designs used in the United States are quite different from the original Brazilian programs. What explains the variation in PB institutional design between Brazil and the United States? Most PB cases in the US are district-level whereas in Brazil, PB cases are mainly municipal. We account for this variation by analyzing the electoral system; configuration of civil society; political moment of adoption; and available resources. We use case study analysis to account for this variation in institutional design. We then assess how the different rule design is likely to create a different set of institutional outcomes.
Related Topics
Civic Engagement and Organizing