Participatory Budgeting: Could It Diminish Health Disparities in the United States?

Carolin Hagelskamp & David Schleifer & Chloe Rinehart & Rebecca Silliman


Participatory budgeting (PB)—a democratic process where ordinary residents decide directly how to spend part of a public budget—has gained impressive momentum in US municipalities, spreading from one pilot project in Chicago’s 49th ward in 2009 to 50 active PB processes across 14 cities in 2016–2017. Over 93,600 US residents voted in a PB process in 2015–2016, deciding over a total of about $49.5 million and funding 264 projects intended to improve their communities. The vast majority of US PB processes take place in large urban centers (e.g., New York City, Chicago, Seattle, Boston), but PB has also recently spread to some smaller cities and towns.

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