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Financing Local Development: Quasi-Experimental Evidence from Municipalities in Brazil, 1980-1991

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  • Stephan Litschig
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    Abstract

    This paper uses a regression discontinuity design to estimate the impact of additional unrestricted grant financing on local public spending, public service provision, schooling, literacy, and income at the community (munic�pio) level in Brazil. Additional transfers increased local public spending per capita by about 20% with no evidence of crowding out own revenue or other revenue sources. The additional local spending increased schooling per capita by about 7% and literacy rates by about 4 percentage points. The implied marginal cost of schooling— accounting for corruption and other leakages— amounts to about US$ 126, which turns out to be similar to the average cost of schooling in Brazil in the early 1980s. In line with the effect on human capital, the poverty rate was reduced by about 4 percentage points, while income per capita gains were positive but not statistically significant. Results also suggest that additional public spending had stronger effects on schooling and literacy in less developed parts of Brazil, while poverty reduction was evenly spread across the country.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Barcelona Graduate School of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 510.

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    Date of creation: Dec 2011
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    Handle: RePEc:bge:wpaper:510

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    Keywords: Intergovernmental grants; decentralization; economic development;

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    1. Ritva Reinikka & Jakob Svensson, 2004. "Local Capture: Evidence From a Central Government Transfer Program in Uganda," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(2), pages 678-704, May.
    2. Ferraz, Claudio & Finan, Frederico S., 2007. "Exposing Corrupt Politicians: The Effects of Brazil’s Publicly Released Audits on Electoral Outcomes," IZA Discussion Papers 2836, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Francesco Caselli & Guy Michaels, 2009. "Do Oil Windfalls Improve Living Standards? Evidence from Brazil," CEP Discussion Papers dp0960, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    4. Fernanda Brollo & Tommaso Nannicini & Roberto Perotti & Guido Tabellini, 2010. "The Political Resource Curse," NBER Working Papers 15705, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Lee, David S., 2008. "Randomized experiments from non-random selection in U.S. House elections," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 675-697, February.
    6. David S. Lee & Thomas Lemieux, 2010. "Regression Discontinuity Designs in Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 48(2), pages 281-355, June.
    7. Birdsall, Nancy, 1985. "Public inputs and child schooling in Brazil," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 67-86.
    8. Chin, Aimee, 2005. "Can redistributing teachers across schools raise educational attainment? Evidence from Operation Blackboard in India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(2), pages 384-405, December.
    9. Andrea Prat & Oriana Bandiera & Tommaso Valletti, 2007. "Active and Passive Waste in Government Spending: Evidence from a Policy Experiment," Levine's Bibliography 843644000000000100, UCLA Department of Economics.
    10. Guido Imbens & Thomas Lemieux, 2007. "Regression Discontinuity Designs: A Guide to Practice," NBER Working Papers 13039, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Lavy, Victor, 1996. "School supply constraints and children's educational outcomes in rural Ghana," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 291-314, December.
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