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Why do Differences in the Degree of Fiscal Decentralization Endure?

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  • Xavier Calsamiglia
  • Teresa Garcia-Milà
  • Therese J. McGuire

Abstract

Differences in the degree of fiscal decentralization observed between the U.S. and many countries in Europe cannot be explained within the standard theory of fiscal decentralization. By introducing preferences for solidarity – equality in the provision of public goods and services across regions – we show that different decentralization schemes can coexist as efficient choices. We develop a model of fiscal decentralization that incorporates tastes for solidarity, multiple levels of government, and various tax and transfer instruments. We find that when solidarity is added to the traditional fiscal-federalism framework, the choice along the decentralized-to-centralized spectrum shifts toward a more centralized system.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 1877.

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Date of creation: 2006
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_1877

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  1. Lockwood, Ben, 1999. "Inter-regional insurance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 1-37, April.
  2. James Konow, 2003. "Which Is the Fairest One of All? A Positive Analysis of Justice Theories," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 41(4), pages 1188-1239, December.
  3. Brown, Charles C. & Oates, Wallace E., 1987. "Assistance to the poor in a federal system," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 307-330, April.
  4. Murray, Sheila E & Evans, William N & Schwab, Robert M, 1998. "Education-Finance Reform and the Distribution of Education Resources," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(4), pages 789-812, September.
  5. Wallace E. Oates, 1999. "An Essay on Fiscal Federalism," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(3), pages 1120-1149, September.
  6. Alesina, Alberto F & Angeloni, Ignazio & Etro, Federico, 2003. "International Unions," CEPR Discussion Papers 3913, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 2003. "Centralized versus decentralized provision of local public goods: a political economy approach," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(12), pages 2611-2637, December.
  8. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1996. "Federal Fiscal Constitutions: Risk Sharing and Redistribution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(5), pages 979-1009, October.
  9. Rubinfeld, Daniel L., 1987. "The economics of the local public sector," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 11, pages 571-645 Elsevier.
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