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The Effect of Agglomeration Size on Local Taxes

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  • Eva Luthi
  • Kurt Schmidheiny

Abstract

Standard tax competition models predict a ‘race-to-the-bottom’ of corporate tax rates when firms are mobile. Recent theoretical literature has qualified this view by offering a theoretical explanation why this extreme prediction need not occur: central regions with large clusters of economic activity are able to set positive tax rates without fearing to lose firms to peripheral regions as the firms would forego ‘rents’ from agglomeration economies. In this paper, we study whether local policy makers effectively tax such agglomeration rents. We test this with panel data from Swiss municipalities between 1985 and 2005. We find that large urban areas set indeed higher tax rates than small ones. This is consistent with the theoretical prediction. Within urban areas, however, municipal tax rates are unrelated to the size of economic activity in and around municipalities while they are positively related to the size of the political jurisdiction. We see this result as evidence that the standard tax competition model for asymmetric jurisdictions is at work in the competition of municipalities within an urban area. Both results are robust to controlling for reverse causality by using instrumental variables. Controlling for fixed effects in a 20 year panel is non-informative and neither supports nor contradicts these findings. As a robustness check we introduce an new measure of cluster intensity which considers the varying intensities in agglomeration economies across sectors.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 3426.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3426

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Keywords: agglomeration; local taxation; corporate taxes; tax competition;

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References

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  1. Kind, Hans Jarle & Schjelderup, Guttorm & Ulltveit-Moe, Karen-Helene, 1999. "Competing for Capital in a 'Lumpy' World," CEPR Discussion Papers 2188, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  3. Brülhart, Marius & Jametti, Mario, 2004. "Vertical versus Horizontal Tax Externalities: An Empirical Test," CEPR Discussion Papers 4593, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Brülhart, Marius & Jametti, Mario & Schmidheiny, Kurt, 2007. "Do Agglomeration Economies Reduce the Sensitivity of Firm Location to Tax Differentials?," CEPR Discussion Papers 6606, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  6. Hyun-Ju Koh & Nadine Riedel, 2010. "Do Governments Tax Agglomeration Rents?," CESifo Working Paper Series 2976, CESifo Group Munich.
  7. Luca Crivelli & Massimo Filippini & Ilaria Mosca, 2006. "Federalism and regional health care expenditures: an empirical analysis for the Swiss cantons," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 15(5), pages 535-541.
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  15. Beatrix Eugster & Raphaël Parchet, 2011. "Culture and Taxes: Towards Identifying Tax Competition," Cahiers de Recherches Economiques du Département d'Econométrie et d'Economie politique (DEEP) 11.05, Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP.
  16. Kleibergen, F.R. & Paap, R., 2003. "Generalized Reduced Rank Tests using the Singular Value Decomposition," Econometric Institute Research Papers EI 2003-01, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Erasmus School of Economics (ESE), Econometric Institute.
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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.

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