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Voting, Lobbying, And The Decentralization Theorem

  • BEN LOCKWOOD

This paper revisits the well-known fiscal "Decentralization Theorem" by relaxing the role of the assumption that governments are benevolent, while retaining the assumption of policy uniformity. If, instead, decisions are made by majority voting, the theorem fails. Specifically, (i) centralization can welfare-dominate decentralization even if there are no externalities and regions are heterogeneous and (ii) decentralization can welfare-dominate centralization even if there are positive externalities and regions are homogeneous. Similar results are obtained if a benevolent government is subject to lobbying. Hence, the Decentralization Theorem is not robust to relatively minor deviations away from the benchmark of a purely benevolent government. Copyright 2008 The Author. Journal compilation 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal Economics & Politics.

Volume (Year): 20 (2008)
Issue (Month): 3 (November)
Pages: 416-431

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Handle: RePEc:bla:ecopol:v:20:y:2008:i:3:p:416-431
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  1. Michela Redoano, 2010. "Does Centralization Affect the Number and Size of Lobbies?," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 12(3), pages 407-435, 06.
  2. Alberto Alesina & Ignazio Angeloni & Federico Etro, 2001. "The Political Economy of International Unions," NBER Working Papers 8645, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Alberto Alesina & Enrico Spolaore, 1995. "On the Number and Size of Nations," NBER Working Papers 5050, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 2003. "Centralized versus decentralized provision of local public goods: a political economy approach," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(12), pages 2611-2637, December.
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