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Fiscal Decentralization and Government Size in Latin America

This paper explores the link between fiscal decentralization and government size in Latin America. While most related work attempts to test Brennan and Buchanan's "Liviathan" hypothesis, here the emphasis is placed on a different channel: the potential for decentralization to aggravate the common pool problem. In addition to the degree of expenditure decentralization, we consider the importance of vertical fiscal imbalance, as well as some institutional variables related to the nature of intergovernmental relations which can affect the ability of some jurisdictions to shift the cost of their local programs onto others: the degree to which intergovernmental transfers are discretional, and the degree to which subnational governments have borrowing autonomy. We find that decentralization tends to produce larger governments, but this effect is particularly important in cases where vertical imbalance is high, transfers are discretional and the degree of borrowing autonomy of subnational governments is large.

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Article provided by Universidad del CEMA in its journal Journal of Applied Economics.

Volume (Year): II (1999)
Issue (Month): (November)
Pages: 357-391

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Handle: RePEc:cem:jaecon:v:2:y:1999:n:2:p:357-391
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  1. Philip J. Grossman, 1989. "Fiscal Decentralization and Government Size: An Extension," Monash Economics Working Papers archive-05, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  2. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1994. "Does centralization increase the size of government?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 38(3-4), pages 765-773, April.
  3. Grossman, Gene & Helpman, Elhanan, 1993. "Protection for Sale," CEPR Discussion Papers 827, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Dani Rodrik, 1996. "Why Do More Open Economies Have Bigger Governments?," NBER Working Papers 5537, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. International Monetary Fund, 1996. "Budget Processes and Commitment to Fiscal Discipline," IMF Working Papers 96/78, International Monetary Fund.
  6. M M Barrow, 1986. "Central grants to local governments: a game theoretic approach," Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 4(2), pages 155-164, April.
  7. Weingast, Barry R & Shepsle, Kenneth A & Johnsen, Christopher, 1981. "The Political Economy of Benefits and Costs: A Neoclassical Approach to Distributive Politics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(4), pages 642-64, August.
  8. Forbes, Kevin F & Zampelli, Ernest M, 1989. "Is Leviathan a Mythical Beast?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(3), pages 568-77, June.
  9. Panizza, Ugo, 1999. "On the determinants of fiscal centralization: Theory and evidence," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(1), pages 97-139, October.
  10. Pablo Sanguinetti, 1994. "Intergovernmental transfers and public sector expenditures: a game-theoretic approach," Estudios de Economia, University of Chile, Department of Economics, vol. 21(2 Year 19), pages 179-212, December.
  11. Zax, Jeffrey S, 1989. "Is There a Leviathan in Your Neighborhood?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(3), pages 560-67, June.
  12. 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.
  13. Canzoneri, Matthew B. & Diba, Behzad T., 1991. "Fiscal deficits, financial integration, and a central bank for Europe," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 5(4), pages 381-403, December.
  14. von Hagen, Jurgen & Eichengreen, Barry, 1996. "Federalism, Fiscal Restraints, and European Monetary Union," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 134-38, May.
  15. Oates, Wallace E, 1985. "Searching for Leviathan: An Empirical Study," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(4), pages 748-57, September.
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