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Sustainable Fiscal Policy in a Federal System: Switzerland as an Example

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  • Lars P. Feld
  • Gebhard Kirchgassner

Abstract

How a sustainable fiscal policy can be performed in a federal system is not only a Swiss prob-lem but is also discussed in other federal countries like Germany and Austria, and in the European Union. Contrary to most other countries, the Swiss fiscal system is characterised by an extensive fiscal federalism with high fiscal autonomy at all governmental levels, by direct popular rights which include fiscal referenda at the cantonal and local levels, and by particular constitutional and/or statutory fiscal restraints in order to prevent excessive public debt. In this paper, the effects of these constitutional clauses on public finances are investigated. Using a panel of the 26 Swiss cantons from 1980 to 1998, we provide evidence that direct democ-racy leads to significantly lower expenditure and revenue. The fiscal constraint, on the other hand, significantly reduces budget deficits. Total, cantonal as well as local expenditure and revenue are the lower the higher the share of local expenditure is.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA) in its series CREMA Working Paper Series with number 2005-16.

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Date of creation: Jul 2004
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Handle: RePEc:cra:wpaper:2005-16

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Keywords: Direct Democracy; Referenda; Initiatives;

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References

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  22. Blomberg, S. Brock & Hess, Gregory D. & Weerapana, Akila, 2004. "The impact of voter initiatives on economic activity," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 207-226, March.
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  24. Kiewiet, D Roderick & Szakaly, Kristin, 1996. "Constitutional Limitations on Borrowing: An Analysis of State Bonded Indebtedness," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 12(1), pages 62-97, April.
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  30. Lars P. Feld & Gebhard Kirchgässner & Christoph A. Schaltegger, 2003. "Decentralized Taxation and the Size of Government: Evidence from Swiss State and Local Governments," CESifo Working Paper Series 1087, CESifo Group Munich.
  31. Lars P. Feld & John G. Matsusaka, 2000. "Budget Referendums and Government Spending: Evidence from Swiss," CESifo Working Paper Series 323, CESifo Group Munich.
  32. Ronald J. Shadbegian, 1999. "Fiscal Federalism, Collusion, and Government Size: Evidence from the States," Public Finance Review, , vol. 27(3), pages 262-281, May.
  33. Lars P. Feld & Gebhard Kirchgassner, 1999. "Public Debt and Budgetary Procedures: Top Down or Bottom Up? Some Evidence from Swiss Municipalities," NBER Chapters, in: Fiscal Institutions and Fiscal Performance, pages 151-180 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  34. Figlio, David N., 1997. "Did the "tax revolt" reduce school performance?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(3), pages 245-269, September.
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Cited by:
  1. Gebhard Kirchgässner & Silika Prohl, 2008. "Sustainability of Swiss Fiscal Policy," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 144(I), pages 57-83, March.
  2. Mariana Bode & Oliver Budzinski, 2005. "Competing Ways Towards International Antitrust: the WTO versus the ICN," Marburg Working Papers on Economics 200503, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).

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