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Equalization and Stabilization


  • Michael Smart


The federal Equalization transfer program makes fiscal resources of "have-not" provinces depend on fiscal conditions in "have" provinces, which tends to destabilize provincial finances: the data show that equalized revenues of receiving provinces are more volatile than own-source revenues. But this reflects the revenue risks facing the aggregate of all provinces, which an equalization program cannot insure. Controlling for aggregate risk, I find that the program has a significant stabilizing effect on provincial finances. Nevertheless, some improvements in revenue-sharing through the program might be contemplated. For example, a return to a national average capacity standard, from the five-province standard which has been in place since 1982, would increase insurance for idiosyncratic shocks by about one-third.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael Smart, 2004. "Equalization and Stabilization," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 30(2), pages 195-208, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpp:issued:v:30:y:2004:i:2:p:195-208

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Townsend, Robert M, 1994. "Risk and Insurance in Village India," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(3), pages 539-591, May.
    2. Robin Boadway & Masayoshi Hayashi, 2004. "An Evaluation of the Stabilization Properties of Equalization in Canada," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 30(1), pages 91-109, March.
    3. Michael Smart, 1998. "Taxation and Deadweight Loss in a System of Intergovernmental Transfers," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 31(1), pages 189-206, February.
    4. Melitz, Jacques & Zumer, Frederic, 2002. "Regional redistribution and stabilization by the center in Canada, France, the UK and the US:: A reassessment and new tests," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(2), pages 263-286, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ralf Hepp & Jürgen von Hagen, 2012. "Fiscal Federalism in Germany: Stabilization and Redistribution Before and After Unification," Publius: The Journal of Federalism, Oxford University Press, vol. 42(2), pages 234-259, April.
    2. Faruk Balli & Syed Basher & Rosmy Jean Louis, 2012. "Channels of risk-sharing among Canadian provinces: 1961–2006," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 43(2), pages 763-787, October.
    3. Robin Boadway & Masayoshi Hayashi, 2004. "An Evaluation of the Stabilization Properties of Equalization in Canada," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 30(1), pages 91-109, March.
    4. Hotz, Joffre & Unterschultz, James R., 2009. "Hedging Alberta Government's Oil and Gas Revenue: Is Acting Like a Farmer a Viable Strategy?," Staff Paper Series 91401, University of Alberta, Department of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology.
    5. Masayoshi Hayashi, 2013. "On the Decomposition of Regional Stabilization and Redistribution," CIRJE F-Series CIRJE-F-910, CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo.
    6. Buettner, Thiess, 2009. "The contribution of equalization transfers to fiscal adjustment: Empirical results for German municipalities and a US-German comparison," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 417-431, September.

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