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Fiscal decentralization and local expenditure policy in China

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  • Jia, Junxue
  • Guo, Qingwang
  • Zhang, Jing

Abstract

Since the tax-sharing reform in 1994, the Chinese fiscal system has exhibited a marked vertical fiscal imbalance—a mismatch between expenditure and revenue assignments—at the local levels, which may cause the common-pool problem in local governments' behavior. Using a large fiscal dataset at the county level from 1997 to 2006, this paper studies the effects of fiscal decentralization on local expenditure policy and analyzes how the vertical fiscal imbalance shapes these effects. The estimation results show that expenditure decentralization increases government spending and leads to a fund allocation with a larger weight on capital construction and smaller weights on education and administration. In contrast, revenue decentralization has little influence on local government expenditures. We show that the differences in the effects of expenditure and revenue decentralization can be attributed to the distortionary effects caused by the vertical fiscal imbalance and, thus, offer support to the importance of the common-pool problem at the county level of China's fiscal system.

Suggested Citation

  • Jia, Junxue & Guo, Qingwang & Zhang, Jing, 2014. "Fiscal decentralization and local expenditure policy in China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 28(C), pages 107-122.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:chieco:v:28:y:2014:i:c:p:107-122
    DOI: 10.1016/j.chieco.2014.01.002
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    2. Roshaiza Taha & Nanthakumar Loganathan, 2014. "Long-Run Nexus between Tax Revenue on Economic Performance: Empirical Evidence from Malaysia," International Journal of Economics and Empirical Research (IJEER), The Economics and Social Development Organization (TESDO), vol. 2(6), pages 238-245, June.
    3. Anping Chen & Nicolaas Groenewold, 2017. "An increase in the retirement age in China: the regional economic effects," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 49(7), pages 702-721, February.
    4. Ding, Chengri & Niu, Yi & Lichtenberg, Erik, 2014. "Spending preferences of local officials with off-budget land revenues of Chinese cities," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(C), pages 265-276.
    5. Wu, Guiying Laura & Feng, Qu & Li, Pei, 2015. "Does local governments’ budget deficit push up housing prices in China?," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 183-196.
    6. Jean-Louis Combes & Mary-Françoise Renard & Sampawende J.-A. Tapsoba, 2019. "Provincial public expenditure in China: a tale of pro-cyclicality," Economic Change and Restructuring, Springer, vol. 52(1), pages 19-41, February.
    7. Qichun He & Meng Sun, 2018. "Does Fiscal Decentralization Increase the Investment Rate? Evidence from Chinese Panel Data," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 19(1), pages 75-101, May.
    8. Guo, Shen & Shi, Yingying, 2018. "Infrastructure investment in China: A model of local government choice under land financing," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 24-35.
    9. Daniel Gama e Colombo & Jorge Martinez-Vazquez, 2018. "Fiscal Decentralization and Public R&D Policy: A Country Panel Analysis," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper1820, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
    10. Sheng Yang & Ling-Yun He, 2015. "Oil price shocks, road transport pollution emissions and residents' health losses in China," Papers 1512.01742, arXiv.org.
    11. Qiao, Mo & Ding, Siying & Liu, Yongzheng, 2019. "Fiscal decentralization and government size: The role of democracy," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 316-330.
    12. Yuan, Cheng & Zhang, Lei, 2015. "Public education spending and private substitution in urban China," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 115(C), pages 124-139.
    13. Zao Sun & Chun-Ping Chang & Yu Hao, 2017. "Fiscal decentralization and China’s provincial economic growth: a panel data analysis for China’s tax sharing system," Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, Springer, vol. 51(5), pages 2267-2289, September.
    14. Yi Long & Chris Nyland & Russell Smyth, 2016. "Fiscal Decentralisation, the Knowledge Economy and School Teachers’ Wages in Urban China," Monash Economics Working Papers 13-16, Monash University, Department of Economics.
    15. Lü, Xiaobo, 2015. "Intergovernmental transfers and local education provision — Evaluating China's 8-7 National Plan for Poverty Reduction," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(C), pages 200-211.
    16. Bin Wu & Xuefei Xu & Zhenzhong Feng, 2018. "Investment Promotion, Fiscal Competition and Economic Growth Sustainability," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 10(1), pages 1-12, January.
    17. Liangliang Liu & Donghong Ding & Jun He, 2019. "Fiscal Decentralization, Economic Growth, and Haze Pollution Decoupling Effects: A Simple Model and Evidence from China," Computational Economics, Springer;Society for Computational Economics, vol. 54(4), pages 1423-1441, December.
    18. Soonae Park & Min-Gean Park & Kyung-Min Nam, 2019. "Growth effects of fiscal decentralization with weak economic motivation: the case of South Korea," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer;Western Regional Science Association, vol. 63(3), pages 399-436, December.
    19. Miyaki, Miki & Kimura, Masaki, 2018. "Do the Elderly Support Public Educational Expenditure? An Empirical Analysis Focusing on the Characteristics of Spending," MPRA Paper 89225, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    20. Jie Mao & Chunhua Wang, 2016. "Tax incentives and environmental protection: evidence from China’s taxpayer-level data," China Finance and Economic Review, Springer, vol. 4(1), pages 1-30, December.
    21. He, Qichun, 2015. "Fiscal decentralization and environmental pollution: Evidence from Chinese panel data," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 86-100.
    22. Liangliang Liu & Donghong Ding & Jun He, 2019. "The welfare effects of fiscal decentralization: a simple model and evidence from China," Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, Springer, vol. 53(1), pages 417-434, January.
    23. Andrea Fracasso, 2015. "Economic Rebalancing and Growth: the Japanese experience and China’s prospects," DEM Discussion Papers 2015/07, Department of Economics and Management.

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