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Fiscal Decentralization in Developing Countries: The Effects of Local Corruption and Tax Evasion

  • Jan K. Brueckner

    (Department of Economics and Institute of Government and Public Affairs, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

A movement toward fiscal decentralization is underway in many countries across the world. This movement is partly justified by appeal to the classic argument of Tiebout (1956), who claimed that decentralized provision of public goods allows better fulfillment of diverse individual demands. Many commentators, however, have expressed concern that the conditions justifying Tiebout's argument are not present in many developing countries. This paper analyzes the consequences of altering Tiebout's model to include local corruption and tax evasion, which may exist in many developing countries. The analysis shows that these forces indeed limit the benefits from fiscal decentralization. By raising public-good costs, corruption cancels some of the gains from better demand fulfillment, which arise as Tiebout sorting generates homogeneous local jurisdictions. By creating incentives for mixing, thereby preventing formation of homogeneous communities, tax evasion may block the operation of the Tiebout mechanism, eliminating the gains from fiscal decentralization.

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Article provided by Society for AEF in its journal Annals of Economics and Finance.

Volume (Year): 1 (2000)
Issue (Month): 1 (May)
Pages: 1-18

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Handle: RePEc:cuf:journl:y:2000:v:1:i:1:p:1-18
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  1. Xie, Danyang & Zou, Heng-fu & Davoodi, Hamid, 1999. "Fiscal Decentralization and Economic Growth in the United States," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(2), pages 228-239, March.
  2. Allingham, Michael G. & Sandmo, Agnar, 1972. "Income tax evasion: a theoretical analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(3-4), pages 323-338, November.
  3. Charles M. Tiebout, 1956. "A Pure Theory of Local Expenditures," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 64, pages 416.
  4. Brueckner, Jan K, 1999. " Fiscal Federalism and Capital Accumulation," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 1(2), pages 205-24.
  5. Oates, Wallace E., 1993. "Fiscal Decentralization and Economic Development," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 46(2), pages 237-43, June.
  6. Tao Zhang & Heng-fu Zou, 2001. "Fiscal decentralization, public spending, and economic growth in China," CEMA Working Papers 58, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
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