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Federalism and the Soft Budget Constraint

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  • Qian, Yingyi
  • Roland, Gerard

Abstract

The government's incentives to bail out inefficient projects are determined by the trade-off between political benefits and economic costs, the latter depending on the decentralization of government. Two effects of federalism are derived: first, fiscal competition among local governments under factor mobility increases the opportunity costs of bailout and, thus, serves as a commitment device (the 'competition effect'); second, monetary centralization, together with fiscal decentralization, induces a conflict of interests and, thus, may harden budget constraints and reduce inflation (the 'checks and balance effect'). The authors' analysis is used to interpret China's recent experience of transition to a market economy. Copyright 1998 by American Economic Association.

Suggested Citation

  • Qian, Yingyi & Roland, Gerard, 1998. "Federalism and the Soft Budget Constraint," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(5), pages 1143-1162, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:88:y:1998:i:5:p:1143-62
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Wildasin, David E., 1997. "Externalities and bailouts : hard and soft budget constraints in intergovernmental fiscal relations," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1843, The World Bank.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • E63 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Comparative or Joint Analysis of Fiscal and Monetary Policy; Stabilization; Treasury Policy
    • H7 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations
    • L30 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - General
    • P3 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Institutions and Their Transitions

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