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An Empirical Approach for Evaluating Soft Budget Constraints

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  • Pettersson-Lidbom, Per

    ()
    (Stockholm university)

  • Dahlberg, Matz

    ()
    (Department of Economics)

Abstract

In this paper, we develop an empirical framework for detecting the existence and estimating the magnitude of the softness of a budget constraint. The defining feature of a soft budget constraint is a subordinate organization’s expectations of being bailed out by a superior organization in case of financial trouble. This implies that one has to link the organization’s expectations for being bailed out to its fiscal behavior in order to quantify the extent of the soft budget constraint. We postulate that expectations for bailouts are formed rationally and make use of an instrumental variable method to get consistent estimates of the parameters of interest. We argue that past own experience of being bailed out and bailouts of other subordinate organizations can be used to construct credible instruments for the formation of bailout expectations. We apply our empirical approach to a unique panel data set of 286 Swedish local governments where the central government provided a total of 1,697 bailouts between 1974 and 1992. Our results strongly suggest the existence of a soft budget constraint; a local government increases its level of debt by 6-10 percent if it expects to be bailed out with probability one as compared to when the likelihood is zero due to previous experience of being bailed out, while the effect on debt from bailouts of its geographical neighbors is roughly four times as large.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Uppsala University, Department of Economics in its series Working Paper Series with number 2003:28.

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Length: 31 pages
Date of creation: 04 Nov 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:uunewp:2003_028

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Postal: Department of Economics, Uppsala University, P. O. Box 513, SE-751 20 Uppsala, Sweden
Phone: + 46 18 471 25 00
Fax: + 46 18 471 14 78
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Web page: http://www.nek.uu.se/
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Keywords: Soft budget constraint; Bailout; Fiscal distress; Intergovernmental relations;

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References

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Bouton, Laurent & Gassner, Marjorie & Verardi, Vincenzo, 2008. "Redistributing income under fiscal vertical imbalance," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 317-328, June.
  2. Aronsson, Thomas & Blomquist, Sören, 2004. "Redistribution and Provision of Public Goods in an Economic Federation," Working Paper Series 2004:4, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  3. Tyrefors, Björn, 2006. "Do Politicians Free-ride? - an empirical test of the common pool model," Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 626, Stockholm School of Economics, revised 19 Sep 2006.
  4. Fabio Padovano, 2011. "Causes and Consequences of Bailing out Expectations of Subcentral Governments: Theory and Evidence from the Italian Regions," Economics Working Paper Archive (University of Rennes 1 & University of Caen) 201128, Center for Research in Economics and Management (CREM), University of Rennes 1, University of Caen and CNRS.
  5. Blomquist, Sören & Christiansen, Vidar, 2004. "Taxation and Heterogeneous Preferences," Working Paper Series 2004:9, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  6. Marko Köthenbürger, 2006. "Ex-Post Redistribution in a Federation: Implications for Corrective Policy," CESifo Working Paper Series 1754, CESifo Group Munich.
  7. Nadia Fiorino & Emma Galli & Ilaria Petrarca, 2012. "Corruption and Growth: Evidence from the Italian Regions," European Journal of Government and Economics, Europa Grande, vol. 1(2), pages 126-144, December.
  8. Bordignon, Massimo & Turati, Gilberto, 2009. "Bailing out expectations and public health expenditure," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 305-321, March.
  9. Marie-Laure Breuillé & Thierry Madiès & Emmanuelle Taugourdeau, 2007. "Fiscal federalism and soft budget constraint: does the nature of public spending matter?," EconomiX Working Papers 2007-16, University of Paris West - Nanterre la Défense, EconomiX.
  10. Marie-Laure Breuillé & Thierry Madiès & Emmanuelle Taugourdeau, 2007. "Funding source and soft budget constraint," EconomiX Working Papers 2007-12, University of Paris West - Nanterre la Défense, EconomiX.
  11. Ernesto Crivelli & Klaas Staal, 2006. "Size and Soft Budget Constraints," CESifo Working Paper Series 1858, CESifo Group Munich.
  12. Ernesto Crivelli & Klaas Staal, 2008. "Size, Spillovers and Soft Budget Constraints," Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2008_17, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
  13. Sergey Sinelnikov & Pavel Kadochnikov & Ilya Trunin (ed.), 2006. "Fiscal Federalism in Russia: Soft Budget Constraints of Regional Governments," Books, Gaidar Institute for Economic Policy, edition 1, number 4, August.
  14. Herold, Katharina, 2009. "Intergovernmental grants and financial autonomy under asymmetric information," FiFo Discussion Papers - Finanzwissenschaftliche Diskussionsbeiträge 09-2, University of Cologne, FiFo Institute for Public Economics.
  15. Sergey Sinelnikov & Pavel Kadochnikov & Ilya Trunin & Sergey Chetverikov & Marianne Vigneault, 2006. "Fiscal Federalism in Russia: Soft Budget Constraints of Regional Governments," Published Papers 47, Gaidar Institute for Economic Policy, revised 2012.

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