Participatory budgeting (PB) is a process of democratic
deliberation Deliberation is a process of thoughtfully weighing options, usually prior to voting. Deliberation emphasizes the use of logic and reason as opposed to power-struggle, creativity, or dialogue. Group decision-making, Group decisions are generally ma ...
and decision-making, in which ordinary people decide how to allocate part of a
municipal A municipality is usually a single administrative division having municipal corporation, corporate status and powers of self-government or jurisdiction as granted by national and regional laws to which it is subordinate. The term ''municipali ...

or public
budget A budget is a financial plan In general usage, a financial plan is a comprehensive evaluation of an individual's current pay and future financial state by using current known variables to predict future income, asset values and withdrawal p ...

. Participatory budgeting allows
citizen Citizenship is a relationship between an individual and a state to which the individual owes allegiance and in turn is entitled to its protection. Each state determines the conditions under which it will recognize persons as its citizens, and t ...

s or residents of a locality to identify, discuss, and prioritize public spending projects, and gives them the power to make real decisions about how money is spent. PB processes are typically designed to involve those left out of traditional methods of public engagement, such as low-income residents, non-citizens, and youth. A comprehensive case study of eight municipalities in Brazil analyzing the successes and failures of participatory budgeting has suggested that it often results in more equitable public spending, greater government
transparency Transparency, transparence or transparent most often refer to transparency and translucency, the physical property of allowing the transmission of light through a material. They may also refer to: Literal uses * Transparency (photography), a sti ...
and accountability, increased levels of
public participation Public participation, also known as citizen participation or patient and public involvement, is the inclusion of the public in the activities of any organization or project. Public participation is similar to but more inclusive than stakeholder en ...
(especially by marginalized or poorer residents), and democratic and citizenship learning. The frameworks of PB differentiate variously throughout the globe in terms of scale, procedure, and objective. PB, in its conception, is often contextualized to suit a region's particular conditions and needs. Thus, the magnitudes of PB vary depending on whether it is carried out at a municipal, regional, or provincial level. In many cases, PB has been legally enforced and regulated; however, some are internally arranged and promoted. Since the original invention in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in 1988, PB has manifested itself in a myriad of designs, with variations in methodology, form, and technology. PB stands as one of several democratic innovations, such as British Columbia's Citizens' Assembly, encompassing the ideals of a
participatory democracy Participatory democracy or participative democracy is a model of democracy in which citizens are provided power to make political decisions. Etymological roots of ''democracy Democracy ( gr, δημοκρατία, ''dēmokratiā'', from ''dē ...
. Today, PB has been implemented in nearly 1,500 municipalities and institutions around the world.


Participatory Budgeting was first developed in the 1980s by the Brazilian Workers' Party, drawing on the party's stated belief that electoral success is not an end in itself but a spring board for developing radical, participatory forms of democracy. While there were several early experiments (including the public budgeting practices of the
Brazilian Democratic Movement The Brazilian Democratic Movement ( pt, Movimento Democrático Brasileiro, MDB) is a Brazilian centrist political party. History Under military rule from 1965 to 1979, Brazil had a legally enforced two party system, with supporters of the re ...
in municipalities such as
Pelotas Pelotas () is a Brazilian city and Municipalities of Brazil, municipality (''município''), the third Largest cities in Rio Grande do Sul by population, most populous in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul. It is located 270 km (168  ...

), the first full participatory budgeting process was implemented in 1989, in the city of , a capital city of the state of Rio Grande do Sul, and a busy industrial, financial, and service center, at that time with a population of 1.2 million. The initial success of PB in Porto Alegre soon made it attractive to other municipalities. By 2001, more than 100 cities in Brazil had implemented PB, while in 2015, thousands of variations have been implemented in the Americas, Africa, Asia and Europe.

Porto Alegre

In its , the 1988 Constitution of Brazil states that "all power originates from the people, who exercise it by the means of elected representatives or directly, according to the terms of this Constitution." The authoring of the Constitution was a reaction to the previous twenty years of Brazilian military government, military dictatorship, and the new Constitution sought to secure individual liberty while also decentralizing and democratizing ruling power, in the hope that authoritarian dictatorship would not reemerge. Brazil's contemporary political economy is an outgrowth of the Portuguese Empire, Portuguese empire's patrimonial capitalism, where "power was not exercised according to rules, but was structured through personal relationships". Unlike the Athenian democracy, Athenian ideal of democracy, in which all citizens participate directly and decide policy collectively, Brazil's government is structured as a republic with Representative democracy, elected representatives. This institutional arrangement has created a separation between the state and civil society, which has opened the doors for clientelism. Because the law-making process occurs behind closed doors, elected officials and bureaucrats can access state resources in ways that benefit certain 'clients', typically those of extraordinary social or economic relevance. The influential clients receive policy favors, and repay elected officials with votes from the groups they influence. For example, a neighborhood leader represents the views of shop owners to the local party boss, asking for laws to increase foot traffic on commercial streets. In exchange, the neighborhood leader mobilizes shop owners to vote for the political party responsible for the policy. Because this patronage operates on the basis of individual ties between patron and clients, true decision-making power is limited to a small network of party bosses and influential citizens rather than the broader public. In 1989, Olívio Dutra won the mayor's seat in Porto Alegre. In an attempt to encourage popular participation in government and redirect government resources towards the poor, Dutra institutionalized the Workers' Party (Brazil), PT's organizational structure on a citywide level. The result is what we now know as Participatory Budgeting.


Most broadly, all participatory budgeting schemes allow citizens to deliberate with the goal of creating either a concrete financial plan (a budget), or a recommendation to elected representatives. In the Porto Alegre model, the structure of the scheme gives sub-jurisdictions (neighborhoods) authority over the larger political jurisdiction (the city) of which they are part. Neighborhood budget committees, for example, have authority to determine the citywide budget, not just the allocation of resources for their particular neighborhood. There is, therefore, a need for mediating institutions to facilitate the aggregation of budget preferences expressed by sub-jurisdictions. According to the World Bank Group, certain factors are needed for PB to be adopted: "[…] strong mayoral support, a civil society willing and able to contribute to ongoing policy debates, a generally supportive political environment that insulates participatory budgeting from legislators' attacks, and financial resources to fund the projects selected by citizens." In addition, there are generally two approaches through which PB formulates: top-down versus bottom-up. The adoption of PB has been required by the federal government in nations such as Peru, while there are cases where local governments initiated PB independent from the national agenda such as Porto Alegre. With the bottom-up approach, NGO's and local organizations have played crucial roles in mobilizing and informing the community members. PB processes do not adhere to strict rules, but they generally share several basic steps: # The municipality is divided geographically into multiple districts. # Representatives of the divided districts are either elected or volunteered to work with government officials in a PB committee. # The committees are established with regularly scheduled meetings under a specific timeline to deliberate. # Proposals, initiated by the citizens, are dealt under different branches of public budget such as recreation, infrastructure, transportation, etc. # Participants publicly deliberate with the committee to finalize the projects to be voted on. # The drafted budget is shared to the public and put for a vote. # The municipal government implements the top proposals. # The cycle is repeated on an annual basis.

Digital Participatory Budgeting (e-Participatory Budgeting)

Technology has often used been to support participatory budgeting, which is commonly referred to as e-participatory budgeting. The use of digital technologies in the process was pioneered by the municipality of Ipatinga in Brazil, which offered the citizens the possibility to vote for projects via the Internet in 2001. The online voting option was later integrated to the participatory budgeting of the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul in 2003, and in the municipality of Belo Horizonte in 2006. Since then the number of participatory budgeting initiatives that included online voting has multiplied around the world, and includes cities like Paris, New York City, Lisbon, Madrid and Mexico City. Although the effects of online voting in participatory budgeting have not been widely researched, a study in 2006 examining the case of participatory budgeting of Belo Horizonte suggests that online voting played a role in increasing the number of participants in the process. A later study on the case of Rio Grande do Sul state documents an 8.2 percent increase in total turnout with the introduction of online voting, with the online channel more likely to attract participants who are younger, male, wealthier and more educated. Despite these demographic differences in the profile of participants, a later study found that the introduction of online voting in Rio Grande do Sul did not lead to a systematic difference in vote choices between online and offline voters. Telephones, both mobile and fixed landlines have also been used to stimulate uptake of participatory budgeting processes. The municipality of Ipatinga was the first to employ telephony in 2005, by creating a toll-free number for citizens to indicate their preferences for budget allotments, and by sending automated voice and text messages incentivizing citizens to attend the participatory budgeting meetings. Even though a few initiatives have used text messages to support mobile voting, such as La Plata in Argentina and Cascais in Portugal, most of the usage has been limited to mobilize citizens to take part in the voting process either in-person or via the Internet. A participatory budgeting algorithm is sometimes used in order to calculate the budget allocation from the votes.


Government Transparency

Participatory Budgeting not only allowed for effective and efficient policy changes, but also had substantial positive influence in other aspects such as an increase in government transparency also known as open government. Through the promotion of social change, participatory budgeting allows for increase in budget transparency. For example, in the Dominican Republic, citizens reported that they did not feel they had a voice in their local government and claimed that they were not aware of how to participate in legislation within their districts. Due to this attitude, “citizen's perceptions of such things as why raising tax revenue is important, how public budgets are carried out, or how public works are paid for are often ill-informed.” Fundacion Solidaridad, an organization that seeks to promote democratic developments through participatory budgeting practices, implemented seminars and practices to “facilitate the exchange of experiences in participatory budgeting at the municipal level through dialogues and planning meetings.”

Advancement in Democracy

Through :es:Solidaridad por Colombia, Fundacion Solidaridad’s approaches, the project revealed many concrete results that proved that participatory budgeting led to advancement in democracy. The results concluded that participatory budgeting served as a platform for democratic societies to be able to partner with public institutions and international partners to be able to “promote activities for democracy and transparency at the local level.” Having more transparency within government allows civic societies to have more impact within their own communities and understand the importance of civic engagement. The high number of participants, after more than a decade, suggests that participatory budgeting encourages increasing citizen involvement, according to the paper. Also, Porto Alegre's health and education budget increased from 13% (1985) to almost 40% (1996), and the share of the participatory budget in the total budget increased from 17% (1992) to 21% (1999). In a paper that updated the World Bank's methodology, expanding statistical scope and analyzing Brazil's 253 largest municipalities that use participatory budgeting, researchers found that participatory budgeting reallocates spending towards health and sanitation. Health and sanitation benefits accumulated the longer participatory budgeting was used in a municipality. Participatory budgeting does not merely allow citizens to shift funding priorities in the short-term – it can yield sustained institutional and political change in the long term. Researchers have also found that participatory budgeting has had greater impact throughout long periods of time. This impact has shown that civil society is able to create a more efficient and effective form of governing.

Improvement in Citizen's Well-being

Participatory budgeting has led to increase citizen’s overall well being. For example, studies based on Brazil’s adaptation of participatory budgeting shows that increase in participatory budgeting correlates to improvements in infant mortality in Brazil. Through researching the influence of participatory budgeting in Brazil, studies have found that infant mortality rates are substantially lower in governments that use participatory budgeting compared to those that do not. This is due to the fact that infant mortality disproportionately affects poorer income groups than middle-upper groups, with participatory budgeting leading to an increase in pro-poor investments, such as health and sewage infrastructure. These results suggest that countries who “sustain participatory budgeting programs may be part of general improvements in governance that produce[s] more durable access to healthcare.” Participatory budgeting has led to advancements in government because democratic governments with this kind of budgeting are able to make better use of public funding. The paper concludes that participatory budgeting can lead to improved conditions for the Poverty, poor. Although it cannot overcome wider problems such as unemployment, it leads to "noticeable improvement in the accessibility and quality of various public welfare amenities". A World Bank paper suggests that participatory budgeting has led to direct improvements in facilities in Porto Alegre. For example, sanitary sewer, sewer and water connections increased from 75% of households in 1988 to 98% in 1997. The number of schools quadrupled since 1986. More recently, a cross-national study on the effects of participatory budgeting finds that the greater participation in the preparation and execution of the budget is, the greater is the allocation of public funds in education.

Citizen's Attitudes

Another outcome of participatory budgeting is that citizen’s attitudes significantly change. For example, research has shown that when citizens participate in participatory budgeting they are more inclined to support democracy and perceive democracy as an institution that is effective and understanding the way governmental budgeting occurs. Through participatory budgeting, citizens are able to acquire skills that allow them to be active citizens. Participatory budgeting has proved to show that it “may help marginalized people and other previously excluded groups to build their self-esteem and self-fulfillment through their participation in local budget decisions.” Civic participation has also shown “foster the attitudes and skills of citizenship” and essentially shape identities and loyalties.

Increase in Tax Revenues

Participatory budgeting has been associated with increased tax revenues. For instance, a study examining the case of Porto Alegre suggests that participatory budgeting contributed to an increase of 269 per cent in own-source revenues from 1988 to 2004. Another comparative study of 25 municipalities in Latin America and Europe finds a significant reduction in levels of tax delinquency after the adoption of participatory budgeting. More recently, a World Bank study examining 253 participatory budgeting cases in Brazil finds that municipalities with the process collect 39% more local taxes than similar municipalities without it.

Adaption of Participatory Budgeting

Based on Porto Alegre more than 140 (about 2.5%) of the 5,571 municipalities in Brazil have adopted participatory budgeting. For other adaptations of Participatory Budgeting around the world, see participatory budgeting by country. Participatory Budgeting has continued to rapidly spread through the world due to the many advantages it provides as it gives alternative ways to have citizens be a part of the democratic process. Participatory budgeting has particularly transformed in countries that struggle to provide public services and rural communities marked by high levels of poverty and the state is fragile. Another key adaptation of participatory budgeting is that it is "far less likely to use specific rules that promote social justice and mandates the distribution of greater resources to underserved communities" which is significant because this allows for greater opportunity to serve poor communities.


Lack of Representation

Reviewing the experience in Brazil and Porto Alegre, a World Bank paper points out that lack of representation of extremely poor people in participatory budgeting can be a shortcoming. Participation of the very poor and of the young is highlighted as a challenge. Studies however show that even though participants do not fully mirror the demographics of the population as a whole, it fares better compared to the status quo of traditional representative democracy institutions. For instance, comparing with the membership of the City Council of Porto Alegre, political scientist Graham Smith notes that participatory budgeting has been substantially more effective in mobilizing women and citizens from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds. In a similar vein, a report on New York City's process shows that participatory budgeting was more successful in mobilizing people of color and low-income groups than local elections. What are the insights regarding the opportunities for and barriers to accomplishing the goal of participatory-based budgeting? It takes leadership to flatten the organizational structure and make conscious ethical responsibilities as individuals and as committee members try to achieve the democratic goals means that the press should be present for the public, and yet the presence of the press inhibits the procedural need for robust discussion . Or, while representation is a cornerstone to participatory budgeting, a group being so large has an effect on the efficiency of the group.


Participatory budgeting may also struggle to overcome existing clientelism . Other observations include that particular groups are less likely to participate once their demands have been met and that slow progress of public works can frustrate participants.

Misallocation Resources

By utilizing participatory budgeting, implies that other projects that could be crucial to government will not be pursued due to finite resources. There are many barriers to entry for governments to get involved in participatory budgeting thus officials fear electoral costs. Institutions also might lack resources and political will to engage. Some institutions also lack the bureaucratic structure to be able to design and execute this kind of approach. In Chicago, participatory budgeting has been criticized for increasing funding to recreational projects while allocating less to infrastructure projects.

See also

*Financial referendum *Participatory budgeting by country *Participatory budgeting algorithm - an algorithm that takes as input the list of projects, the available budget and the voters' preferences, and returns an allocation of the budget among the projects satisfying some pre-defined requirements. *Multiwinner voting - can be seen as a special case of participatory budgeting, in which the "cost" of each candidate is 1, and the budget is the parliament size. *Participatory democracy * Deliberative poll * Citizens' assembly * Participatory economics * Participatory planning * Participatory justice * Programme budgeting * Public participation * Tax choice * Participatory budgeting in SAFe Scaled Agile Framework



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External links

* . * – a non-profit organization that supports participatory budgeting in North America and hosts an international resource site.
PBnetwork UK
- information on participatory budgeting in the UK
PB Scotland
Support to implement PB in Scotland
Participatory budgeting publications and resources from What Works ScotlandDigital tools and participatory budgeting in Scotland from The Democratic SocietyBudget Participatif Paris
- PB website for the City of Paris
Case study on the Electronic Participatory Budgeting of the city of Belo Horizonte (Brazil)
*[http://www.citymayors.com/finance/participatory_budget.html www.citymayors.com] - PB in Brazil
Electronic Participatory Budgeting in Iceland
- Case study
PB in Rosario, Argentina
Official Site of PB in Rosario, Argentina (Spanish).
- links to participatory budgeting articles and resources

- links to participatory budgeting articles and resources
Participatory Budgeting Facebook Group
- large participatory budgeting online community
- Rete del Nuovo Municipio, the Italian project linking Local Authorities, scientists and local committees for promoting Participatory Democracy and Active Citizenship mainly by way of PB
"Experimentos democráticos. Asambleas barriales y Presupuesto Participativo en Rosario, 2002-2005"
- Doctoral Dissertation o
Alberto Ford
on Participatory Budgeting in Rosario, Argentina (Spanish). * .
An interview with Josh Lerner, Executive Director of the Participatory Budgeting Project

Participatory budgeting site of Cambridge, Massachusetts
{{DEFAULTSORT:Participatory budgeting Participatory budgeting,