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A Theory of Fiscal Imbalance

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  • Robin Boadway
  • Jean-François Tremblay

Abstract

This paper examines how sequential decision-making by two levels of government can result in fiscal imbalances. Federal-regional transfers serve to equalize the marginal cost of public funds between regions hit by different shocks. The optimal transfers minimize the efficiency cost of taxation in the federation as a whole. The analysis shows how the existence of vertical fiscal externalities, leading regional governments to overprovide public goods, can induce the federal government to create a fiscal imbalance by selecting transfers that differ from the optimal ones. When the federal government can commit to its policies before regional governments select their level of expenditures, the fiscal imbalance will generally be negative. In the absence of commitment, the equilibrium transfer is unambiguously larger than the optimal fiscal gap, resulting in a positive fiscal imbalance.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen in its journal FinanzArchiv.

Volume (Year): 62 (2006)
Issue (Month): 1 (March)
Pages: 1-27

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Handle: RePEc:mhr:finarc:urn:sici:0015-2218(200603)62:1_1:atofi_2.0.tx_2-o

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Related research

Keywords: fiscal imbalance; intergovernment transfers; commitment; fiscal externalities;

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References

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  1. Bordignon, Massimo & Manasse, Paolo & Tabellini, Guido, 1996. "Optimal Regional Redistribution Under Asymmetric Information," CEPR Discussion Papers 1437, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Robin Boadway & Katherine Cuff & Maurice Marchand, 2003. "Equalization and the Decentralization of Revenue-Raising in a Federation," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 5(2), pages 201-228, 04.
  3. Masayoshi Hayashi & Robin Boadway, 2001. "An empirical analysis of intergovernmental tax interaction: the case of business income taxes in Canada," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 34(2), pages 481-503, May.
  4. Sam Bucovetsky & Michael Smart, 2006. "The Efficiency Consequences of Local Revenue Equalization: Tax Competition and Tax Distortions," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 8(1), pages 119-144, 01.
  5. B. Dahlby & L. S. Wilson, 1994. "Fiscal Capacity, Tax Effort, and Optimal Equalization Grants," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 27(3), pages 657-72, August.
  6. Johnson, William R, 1988. "Income Redistribution in a Federal System," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(3), pages 570-73, June.
  7. David E. Wildasin, 2004. "The Institutions of Federalism: Toward an Analytical Framework," Public Economics 0403006, EconWPA.
  8. Robin Boadway & Jean-Francois Tremblay, 2005. "A Theory of Vertical Fiscal Imbalance," Working Papers 2006-04, University of Kentucky, Institute for Federalism and Intergovernmental Relations.
  9. Michael Keen & Christos Kotsogiannis, 2003. "Leviathan and Capital Tax Competition in Federations," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 5(2), pages 177-199, 04.
  10. Michael J. Keen & Christos Kotsogiannis, 2002. "Does Federalism Lead to Excessively High Taxes?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 363-370, March.
  11. Dahlby, Bev & Wilson, Leonard S., 2003. "Vertical fiscal externalities in a federation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(5-6), pages 917-930, May.
  12. Walter Hettich & Stanley L. Winer, 1986. "Vertical Imbalance in the Fiscal Systems of Federal States," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 19(4), pages 745-65, November.
  13. Bev Dahlby, 1996. "Fiscal externalities and the design of intergovernmental grants," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 3(3), pages 397-412, July.
  14. Michael Smart, 1998. "Taxation and Deadweight Loss in a System of Intergovernmental Transfers," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 31(1), pages 189-206, February.
  15. repec:fth:louvco:9803 is not listed on IDEAS
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Eyraud, Luc & Lusinyan, Lusine, 2013. "Vertical fiscal imbalances and fiscal performance in advanced economies," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(5), pages 571-587.
  2. Sharma, Chanchal Kumar, 2010. "Beyond Gaps and Imbalances: Re-Structuring the Debate on Intergovernmental Fiscal Relations," MPRA Paper 32145, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Sharma, Chanchal Kumar, 2011. "Multilevel Fiscal Governance in a Balanced Policy Environment," MPRA Paper 30282, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Dahlby, Bev & Rodden, Jonathan & Wilson, Sam, 2009. "A Median Voter Model of the Vertical Fiscal Gap," Working Papers 2009-14, University of Alberta, Department of Economics.
  5. Bev Dahlby & Jonathan Rodden, 2013. "A political economy model of the vertical fiscal gap and vertical fiscal imbalances in a federation," Working Papers 2013/18, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
  6. Diego Martinez-Lopez & Tomas Sjöngren, 2014. "Vertical externalities with lump-sum taxes: how much difference does unemployment make?," European Journal of Government and Economics, Europa Grande, vol. 3(1), pages 75-87, June.
  7. Boadway, Robin & Tremblay, Jean-François, 2012. "Reassessment of the Tiebout model," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(11), pages 1063-1078.
  8. Zarko Y. Kalamov, 2012. "Prudent Fiscal Policy in the Presence of Bailout Expectations," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 68(4), pages 365-382, December.
  9. Jorge Martinez-Vazquez & Cristian Sepulveda, 2012. "Toward a More General Theory of Revenue Assignments," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper1231, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
  10. Boadway, Robin & Song, Zhen & Tremblay, Jean-François, 2013. "Non-cooperative pollution control in an inter-jurisdictional setting," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(5), pages 783-796.

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