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Growth and Equity Tradeoff in Decentralization Policy: China's Experience

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Abstract

The paper uses China's recent experience to investigate the potential tradeoff between economic growth and regional equity in the design of fiscal decentralization policy. Although present in other countries, this policy tradeoff has been particularly relevant to China over the last two decades. We build a theoretical model of fiscal decentralization, where overall national economic growth and equity in the regional distribution of fiscal resources are the two objectives pursued by a benevolent policy maker. Solutions that emphasize regional equity tend to have larger central government expenditures and higher contribution to the central budget by the richer jurisdictions. The reverse is true for solutions emphasizing growth. The model is tested using panel data for 1985-98. We find that fiscal decentralization in China led to economic growth, but this relationship was non-linear. Decentralization also led to significant increases in regional inequality. Overall, the historical record shows that pushing for a more equitable distribution of fiscal resources across provinces in China is likely to lead to lower national economic growth. The tradeoff between economic growth and regional equity is the most important and difficult decision in intergovernmental fiscal reform currently facing the Chinese authorities.

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File URL: http://icepp.gsu.edu/sites/default/files/documents/icepp/wp/ispwp0216.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University in its series International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU with number paper0216.

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Length: 42 pages
Date of creation: 01 Jul 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ays:ispwps:paper0216

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Keywords: decentralization; china;

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References

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  1. Robert J. Barro, 1988. "Government Spending in a Simple Model of Endogenous Growth," NBER Working Papers 2588, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Romer, Paul M, 1986. "Increasing Returns and Long-run Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(5), pages 1002-37, October.
  3. Roland Bénabou, 1996. "Inequality and Growth," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1996, Volume 11, pages 11-92 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Tao Zhang & Heng-fu Zou, 2001. "Fiscal decentralization, public spending, and economic growth in China," CEMA Working Papers 58, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
  5. Hofman, Bert, 1993. "An analysis of Chinese fiscal data over the reform period," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 213-230.
  6. Yingyi Qian & Barry R. Weingast, 1997. "Federalism as a Commitment to Preserving Market Incentives," Working Papers 97042, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
  7. Shantayanan Devarajan & Vinaya Swaroop & Heng-fu Zou, 1996. "The composition of public expenditure and economic growth," CEMA Working Papers 77, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
  8. White, Halbert, 1980. "A Heteroskedasticity-Consistent Covariance Matrix Estimator and a Direct Test for Heteroskedasticity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(4), pages 817-38, May.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Berthold, Norbert & Fricke, Holger, 2007. "China's Booming Economy: Does the Federal Order Foster Growth?," Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Beiträge 95, Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg, Lehrstuhl für Volkswirtschaftslehre, insbes. Wirtschaftsordnung und Sozialpolitik.
  2. Jaime Bonet, 2006. "Fiscal decentralization and regional income disparities: evidence from the Colombian experience," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer, vol. 40(3), pages 661-676, August.
  3. Lars P. Feld & Horst Zimmermann & Thomas Döring, 2004. "Federalism, Decentralization, and Economic Growth," Marburg Working Papers on Economics 200430, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
  4. Bahl, Roy & Martinez-Vazquez, Jorge, 2006. "Sequencing fiscal decentralization," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3914, The World Bank.
  5. Lars P. Feld & Horst Zimmermann & Thomas Döring, 2003. "Föderalismus, Dezentralität und Wirtschaftswachstum," Vierteljahrshefte zur Wirtschaftsforschung / Quarterly Journal of Economic Research, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 72(3), pages 361-377.
  6. Bert Hofman & Susana Cordeira Guerra, 2004. "Ensuring Inter-regional Equity and Poverty Reduction," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper0411, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
  7. Jorge Martinez-Vazquez & Andrey Timofeev, 2006. "Regional-Local Dimension of Russia's Fiscal Equalization," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper0616, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
  8. Berthold, Norbert & Fricke, Holger, 2005. "Föderalismus und Wachstum: Eine vernachlässigte Beziehung," Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Beiträge 83, Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg, Lehrstuhl für Volkswirtschaftslehre, insbes. Wirtschaftsordnung und Sozialpolitik.
  9. Jaime Bonet, 2004. "Descentralización fiscal y disparidades en el ingreso regional: la experiencia colombiana," DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO SOBRE ECONOMÍA REGIONAL 002282, BANCO DE LA REPÚBLICA - ECONOMÍA REGIONAL.

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