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Do Fiscal Rules Matter?

Author

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  • Veronica Grembi
  • Tommaso Nannicini
  • Ugo Troiano

Abstract

Fiscal rules are laws aimed at reducing the incentive to accumulate debt, and many countries adopt them to discipline local governments. Yet, their effectiveness is disputed because of commitment and enforcement problems. We study their impact applying a quasi-experimental design in Italy. In 1999, the central government imposed fiscal rules on municipal governments, and in 2001 relaxed them below 5,000 inhabitants. We exploit the before/after and discontinuous policy variation, and show that relaxing fiscal rules increases deficits and lowers taxes. The effect is larger if the mayor can be reelected, the number of parties is higher, and voters are older.

Suggested Citation

  • Veronica Grembi & Tommaso Nannicini & Ugo Troiano, 2016. "Do Fiscal Rules Matter?," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 8(3), pages 1-30, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejapp:v:8:y:2016:i:3:p:1-30
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/app.20150076
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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
    • H71 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • H72 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Budget and Expenditures
    • H74 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Borrowing
    • R51 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Regional Government Analysis - - - Finance in Urban and Rural Economies

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