Participatory Budgeting Research
Metrics and Evaluation Tools
Municipalities, educational institutions and other entities across the world use participatory budgeting (PB), a democratic process in which constituents decide together how to spend part of a public budget. Evaluation can help determine who is participating in PB, how PB funds are being allocated, and opportunities for strengthening PB.
In close collaboration with PB evaluators and researchers in the U.S. and Canada, Public Agenda developed a toolkit for evaluating PB that is designed to support common research goals across PB processes and inform discussions about how to improve PB. This work was conducted through a research partnership with the Kettering Foundation and was supported by grants from the Democracy Fund and the Rita Allen Foundation.
The toolkit provides:
Metrics to help evaluators understand whether their PB process is meeting its goals related to topics such as the diversity of PB participants, the amounts of money allocated to PB processes, the implementation rate of winning projects and the costs of implementing PB. Download the metrics here.
Research instruments and customized excel sheets to facilitate data entry. These include:
- Survey instruments for participants in the idea collection phase of PB in English, Spanish, and French, with a customized spreadsheet for data entry
- PB voter surveys in English, Spanish, and French, with a customized spreadsheet for data entry.
- A questionnaire for PB evaluators and implementers, with a customized spreadsheet for data entry
Research timeline providing guidance for how evaluation can fit into a PB process.
Learn more about Public Agenda’s research on participatory budgeting below or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
In participatory budgeting (PB), residents instead of public officials decide how public money is spent. PB may reveal that residents prioritize different investments than public officials, which could lead to more socially just spending. However, little research has examined whether and how PB shifts spending priorities. This study leverages publicly available records on New York … Read more
This commentary discusses three theoretical pathways by which PB could affect health disparities in local communities: by strengthening people’s psychological empowerment, by strengthening civic sector alliances and by (re)distributing resources to areas of greatest need. The commentary reviews research on PB’s implementation and outputs so far and outlines priorities for future research and practice.
This white paper examines the extent to which North American PB processes are applying deliberative principles and practices, explores the tensions and challenges in making PB more deliberative, suggests questions for further research and offer recommendations for public officials and practitioners for improving their PB processes.
This report serves as an aggregate analysis of all U.S. and Canadian PB processes from the 2015–16 cycle. This report breaks new ground by making comparisons across key metrics collected from one cycle to the next on all U.S. and Canadian PB processes. By bringing together data from all U.S. and Canadian PB processes and over time, we seek to inform ongoing debates about PB and to advance the practice of PB.
Evidence from Brazil suggests PB has helped alleviate poverty, expand access to public services, reduce corruption, raise tax compliance, increase the number of civil society organizations and improve the social well-being of a wide range of citizens. Can these outcomes be replicated? This report delves into these questions and examines the potential of PB to address economic and political inequalities in the U.S. and Canada.
The report, “Why Let the People Decide? Elected Officials on Participatory Budgeting,” is based on confidential interviews with 43 local elected officials from across the country regarding their views of and experiences with PB. Elected officials across the country report that participatory budgeting helped them be more responsive to community needs, improved their political prospects and engaged their constituents more in political life. The biggest challenge officials say they faced was not having enough time, staff and resources to undertake PB effectively.
Participatory budgeting (PB) is among the fastest-growing democratic innovations in the United States and Canada. A total of 46 jurisdictions across 13 cities in the U.S. and Canada undertook PB between July 2014 and June 2015. This report provides an unprecedented summary of key facts and figures of the 2014–15 PB cycle in the U.S. and Canada. It highlights the size and scope of PB in 2014–15 and illustrates substantial variability in how communities implemented and participated in PB.