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The Buck Stops Where? Federalism, Uncertainty, and Investment in the Brazilian Water and Sanitation Sector

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  • Evan Plous Kresch

Abstract

This paper documents how regulatory uncertainty may undermine public service when different levels of government share a mandate on public service provision. I examine the Brazilian water and sanitation sector, which presents a natural experiment of shared provision between state and municipal companies. Using a difference-in-differences framework, I study a legal reform that clarified the relationship between municipal and state providers and eliminated any takeover threat by state companies. I find that after the reform, municipal companies almost doubled their total system investment, leading to significant increases in system access and decreases in child mortality.

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  • Evan Plous Kresch, 2020. "The Buck Stops Where? Federalism, Uncertainty, and Investment in the Brazilian Water and Sanitation Sector," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 12(3), pages 374-401, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejpol:v:12:y:2020:i:3:p:374-401
    DOI: 10.1257/pol.20180327
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    1. Chris Sampson’s journal round-up for 24th August 2020
      by Chris Sampson in The Academic Health Economists' Blog on 2020-08-24 11:00:07

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    Cited by:

    1. Ricardo Dahis & Christiane Szerman, 2023. "Decentralizing Development: Evidence from Government Splits," Monash Economics Working Papers 2023-18, Monash University, Department of Economics.
    2. Kyunghoon Ban & D'esir'e K'edagni, 2022. "Robust Difference-in-differences Models," Papers 2211.06710, arXiv.org, revised Aug 2023.
    3. Kresch, Evan Plous & Schneider, Rodrigo, 2020. "Political determinants of investment in water and sanitation: Evidence from Brazilian elections," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 189(C).
    4. Augustine Denteh & D'esir'e K'edagni, 2022. "Misclassification in Difference-in-differences Models," Papers 2207.11890, arXiv.org, revised Jul 2022.
    5. Ricardo Dahis & Christiane Szerman, 2024. "Decentralizing Development: Evidence from Government Splits," CESifo Working Paper Series 10927, CESifo.
    6. Kresch, Evan Plous & Walker, Mark & Best, Michael Carlos & Gerard, François & Naritomi, Joana, 2023. "Sanitation and property tax compliance: Analyzing the social contract in Brazil," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 160(C).

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H77 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Intergovernmental Relations; Federalism
    • L95 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Gas Utilities; Pipelines; Water Utilities
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • O18 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Urban, Rural, Regional, and Transportation Analysis; Housing; Infrastructure
    • Q53 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling

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