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How Do Local Governments Decide on Public Policy in Fiscal Federalism? Tax vs. Expenditure Optimization

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  • Marko Köthenbürger

Abstract

Previous literature widely assumes that taxes are optimized in local public finance while expenditures adjust residually. This paper endogenizes the choice of the optimization variable. In particular, it analyzes how federal policy toward local governments influences the way local governments decide on public policy. Unlike the presumption, the paper shows that local governments may choose to optimize over expenditures. The result most notably prevails when federal policy subsidizes local fiscal effort. The results offer a new perspective of the efficiency implications of federal policy toward local governments and, thereby, enable a more precise characterization of local government behaviour in fiscal federalism.

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File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/portal/page/portal/DocBase_Content/WP/WP-CESifo_Working_Papers/wp-cesifo-2008/wp-cesifo-2008-09/cesifo1_wp2385.pdf
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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 2385.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2385

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Keywords: tax vs. expenditure optimization; federalism; endogenous commitment; fiscal incentives; policy interaction;

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  1. 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.
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  7. Baretti, Christian & Huber, Bernd & Lichtblau, Karl, 2002. "A Tax on Tax Revenue: The Incentive Effects of Equalizing Transfers: Evidence from Germany," Munich Reprints in Economics 20129, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  8. Hindriks, Jean, 1999. "The consequences of labour mobility for redistribution: tax vs. transfer competition," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(2), pages 215-234, November.
  9. Peter Egger & Marko Koethenbuerger & Michael Smart, 2007. "Do Fiscal Transfers Alleviate Business Tax Competition? Evidence from Germany," CESifo Working Paper Series 1955, CESifo Group Munich.
  10. Marko Köthenbürger, 2006. "Ex-Post Redistribution in a Federation: Implications for Corrective Policy," CESifo Working Paper Series 1754, CESifo Group Munich.
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  18. Janos Kornai & Eric Maskin & Gerard Roland, 2002. "Understanding the Soft Budget Constraint," Economics Working Papers 0019, Institute for Advanced Study, School of Social Science.
  19. Akai, Nobuo & Sato, Motohiro, 2008. "Too big or too small? A synthetic view of the commitment problem of interregional transfers," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(3), pages 551-559, November.
  20. Christian Baretti & Bernd Huber & Karl Lichtblau, 2002. "A Tax on Tax Revenue: The Incentive Effects of Equalizing Transfers: Evidence from Germany," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 9(6), pages 631-649, November.
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  23. Koethenbuerger, Marko, 2011. "How do local governments decide on public policy in fiscal federalism? Tax vs. expenditure optimization," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(11), pages 1516-1522.
  24. Per Pettersson-Lidbom, 2010. "Dynamic Commitment and the Soft Budget Constraint: An Empirical Test," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 154-79, August.
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Cited by:
  1. Hansjörg Blöchliger & José Maria Pinero Campos, 2011. "Tax Competition Between Sub-Central Governments," OECD Working Papers on Fiscal Federalism 13, OECD Publishing.
  2. Brülhart, Marius & Parchet, Raphaël, 2014. "Alleged tax competition: The mysterious death of bequest taxes in Switzerland," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 63-78.
  3. Yutao Han, 2013. "Who benefits from partial tax coordination?," CREA Discussion Paper Series 13-24, Center for Research in Economic Analysis, University of Luxembourg.
  4. Koethenbuerger, Marko, 2014. "Competition for migrants in a federation: Tax or transfer competition?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(C), pages 110-118.
  5. Koethenbuerger, Marko, 2011. "How do local governments decide on public policy in fiscal federalism? Tax vs. expenditure optimization," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(11), pages 1516-1522.
  6. Raphael Parchet, 2012. "Are Local Tax Rates Strategic Complements or Substitutes?," ERSA conference papers ersa12p313, European Regional Science Association.

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