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The Marginal Cost of Public Funds and the Flypaper Effect

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  • Dahlby, Bev

    ()
    (University of Alberta, Department of Economics)

Abstract

A lump-sum intergovernmental transfer has a "price effect", as well as an "income effect", because it allows the recipient government to reduce its tax rate, which lowers its marginal cost of public funds, while still providing the same level of public service. This reduction in the effective price of providing the public service helps to explain the "flypaper effect" - the empirical observation that a lump-sum grant has a much larger effect on spending than an increase in personal income. Contrary to the assertions of Mieszkowski (1994) and Hines and Thaler (1995), a model of a benevolent local government financing its expenditures with a distortionary tax predicts flypaper effects from lump-sum grants that are similar to those observed in many econometric studies

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Alberta, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 2009-17.

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Length: 31 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2009
Date of revision: 01 Jun 2010
Handle: RePEc:ris:albaec:2009_017

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Keywords: flypaper effect; marginal cost of public funds; intergovernmental grants; fiscal federalism;

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  1. Dollery, Brian E & Worthington, Andrew C, 1996. " The Empirical Analysis of Fiscal Illusion," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 10(3), pages 261-97, September.
  2. Roemer, John E & Silvestre, Joaquim, 2002. " The "Flypaper Effect" Is Not an Anomaly," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 4(1), pages 1-17.
  3. Lars-Erik Borge, 1995. "Lump-Sum Intergovernmental Grants Have Price Effects: a Note," Public Finance Review, , vol. 23(2), pages 271-274, April.
  4. Logan, Robert R, 1986. "Fiscal Illusion and the Grantor Government," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(6), pages 1304-18, December.
  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. Gary S. Becker & Casey B. Mulligan, 1998. "Deadweight Costs and the Size of Government," NBER Working Papers 6789, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Bailey, Stephen J & Connolly, Stephen, 1998. " The Flypaper Effect: Identifying Areas for Further Research," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 95(3-4), pages 335-61, June.
  8. Hamilton, Jonathan H., 1986. "The flypaper effect and the deadweight loss from taxation," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 148-155, March.
  9. Andrew Haughwout & Robert Inman & Steven Craig & Thomas Luce, 2004. "Local Revenue Hills: Evidence from Four U.S. Cities," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(2), pages 570-585, May.
  10. Hammes, David L & Wills, Douglas T, 1987. "Fiscal Illusion and the Grantor Government in Canada," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 25(4), pages 707-13, October.
  11. 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.
  12. Michael Smart, 2007. "Raising Taxes through Equalization," CESifo Working Paper Series 1926, CESifo Group Munich.
  13. Stewart, Mark F, 1996. "Fiscal Illusion (the Flypaper Effect) and Government Spending in Australia," Australian Economic Papers, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 35(67), pages 390-96, December.
  14. Bradford, David F & Oates, Wallace E, 1971. "An Analysis of Revenue Sharing in a New Approach to Collective Fiscal Decisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 85(3), pages 416-39, August.
  15. David E. Wildasin & Thiess Buettner, 2005. "The Dynamics of Municipal Fiscal Adjustment," Working Papers 2005-03, University of Kentucky, Institute for Federalism and Intergovernmental Relations.
  16. James R. Hines & Richard H. Thaler, 1995. "The Flypaper Effect," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(4), pages 217-226, Fall.
  17. Michael Baker & Abigail Payne, 1998. "An empirical study of matching grants: The "cap on CAP"," Working Papers msmart-98-03, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  18. Peter C. Coyte & Stuart Landon, 1990. "Cost-Sharing versus Block-Funding in a Federal System: A Demand Systems Approach," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 23(4), pages 817-38, November.
  19. Winer, Stanley L, 1983. "Some Evidence on the Effect of the Separation of Spending and Taxing Decisions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(1), pages 126-40, February.
  20. Dahlby, Bev, 2009. "The Optimal Taxation Approach to Intergovernmental Grants," Working Papers 2009-16, University of Alberta, Department of Economics.
  21. Craig Volden, 2007. "Intergovernmental Grants: A Formal Model of Interrelated National and Subnational Political Decisions," Publius: The Journal of Federalism, Oxford University Press, vol. 37(2), pages 209-243, Spring.
  22. Bev Dahlby, 2008. "The Marginal Cost of Public Funds: Theory and Applications," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262042509, December.
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Cited by:
  1. Lauro Carnicelli & Fernando Antonio Slaibe Postali, 2014. "Oil windfalls and local fiscal effort: a propensity score analysis," Working Papers, Department of Economics 2014_03, University of São Paulo (FEA-USP).
  2. Bev Dahlby & Ergete Ferede, 2012. "The Stimulative Effects of Intergovernmental Grants and the Marginal Cost of Public Funds," CESifo Working Paper Series 3863, CESifo Group Munich.
  3. repec:spa:wpaper:2014wpecon03 is not listed on IDEAS

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