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An empirical study of matching grants: The "cap on CAP"

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  • Michael Baker
  • Abigail Payne

Abstract

Funding mechanisms for social expenditures are currently being reformed in many countries. While the theoretical implications of these changes are often easily identified, their empirical magnitude is not always as clear. For example, in federal systems social expenditure is often funded by matching grants, and estimates of the effect of varying matching rates on expenditures by sub-national governments vary widely. The ambiguity is due in part to inherent difficulties identifying price and income effects of federal grants given the structure of the funding mechanisms in most countries. In this paper, we examine a recent reform in Canada, in which federal grants for welfare expenditures were `capped' (converted from an open-ended to a closed-ended matching grant). Importantly, the cap applied to only three of ten provincial governments. Our empirical strategy exploits the time series-cross section variation in the funding mechanism provided by the differential application of the reform. This approach potentially surmounts some of the difficulties which have beset earlier studies. We find that the affected provinces did respond to the reform by reducing the growth rate of expenditures. They were 6 to 8 percentage points lower than predicted in the absence of the cap over the medium term.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Toronto, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number msmart-98-03.

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Length: 30 pages
Date of creation: 11 Jun 1998
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:tor:tecipa:msmart-98-03

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  1. Newey, Whitney & West, Kenneth, 2014. "A simple, positive semi-definite, heteroscedasticity and autocorrelation consistent covariance matrix," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 33(1), pages 125-132.
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  3. Moffitt, Robert A., 1984. "The effects of grants-in-aid on state and local expenditures : The case of AFDC," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 279-305, April.
  4. Robert Moffitt, 1988. "Has State Redistribution Policy Grown More Conservative?," NBER Working Papers 2516, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Peltzman, Sam, 1992. "Voters as Fiscal Conservatives," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(2), pages 327-61, May.
  6. Moffitt, Robert, 1990. "Has State Redistribution Policy Grown More Conservative?," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 43(2), pages 123-42, June Cita.
  7. Borcherding, Thomas E., 1985. "The causes of government expenditure growth: A survey of the U.S. evidence," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 359-382, December.
  8. James R. Hines & Richard H. Thaler, 1995. "The Flypaper Effect," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(4), pages 217-226, Fall.
  9. Edward M. Gramlich & Henry J. Aaron & Michael C. Lovell, 1982. "An Econometric Examination of the New Federalism," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 13(2), pages 327-370.
  10. Becker, Gary S, 1983. "A Theory of Competition among Pressure Groups for Political Influence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 98(3), pages 371-400, August.
  11. Howard Chernick, 1998. "Fiscal Effects of Block Grants for the Needy: An Interpretation of the Evidence," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 5(2), pages 205-233, May.
  12. Lindert, Peter H., 1996. "What Limits Social Spending?," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 1-34, January.
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Cited by:
  1. Robin Boadway, 2001. "Financing Confederation Revisited: The Economic State of the Federation," The State of Economics in Canada: Festschrift in Honour of David Slater, in: Patrick Grady & Andrew Sharpe (ed.), The State of Economics in Canada: Festschrift in Honour of David Slater, pages 37-56 Centre for the Study of Living Standards.
  2. Lemieux, Thomas & Milligan, Kevin, 2008. "Incentive effects of social assistance: A regression discontinuity approach," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 807-828, February.
  3. Marcel Thum & Thomas Fester & Andreas Kappler & Helmut Seitz, 2005. "Öffentliche Infrastruktur und kommunale Finanzen : Gutachten im Auftrag des Bundesministeriums für Verkehr, Bau- und Wohnungswesen und des Bundesamtes für Bauwesen und Raumordnung," ifo Dresden Studien, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, number 37, October.
  4. Evans, William N. & Owens, Emily G., 2007. "COPS and crime," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(1-2), pages 181-201, February.
  5. Bev Dahlby, 2011. "The marginal cost of public funds and the flypaper effect," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 18(3), pages 304-321, June.
  6. 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.
  7. Gervan Fearon, 2001. "Endogenous public sector budgeting: to centralize or not?," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 34(2), pages 504-524, May.
  8. Masayoshi Hayashi & Yohei Kobayashi, 2010. "The Effects of Central Grants on Decentralized Social Programs: Post]2005 School Expense Assistance in Japan," Global COE Hi-Stat Discussion Paper Series gd09-118, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  9. Robin Boadway, 2001. "Inter-Governmental Fiscal Relations: The Facilitator of Fiscal Decentralization," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 12(2), pages 93-121, June.

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