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Central governance or subsidiarity: A property-rights approach to federalism

  • Lulfesmann, Christoph

The paper reconsiders the theory of fiscal federalism in a framework inspired by property-rights theory. We set up a two-period model where on a first stage a region in a federation can expend value-enhancing investments into a public project. The project can be implemented on a second stage, and causes spilovers on other regions. Under centralized as well as decentralized governance, negotiations on the federal level facilitate the realization of the efficient policy. Still, non-contractibility of investments causes the overall outcomes to differ across regimes. If the region with access to the public project bears the entire implementation costs of its policies, underinvestment prevails and subsidiarity (centralized governance) is superior when spillovers are weak (strong). Conversely, if linear cost-sharing arrangements are feasible, decentralized authority often leads to a socially optimal outcome while centralized authority (with majority or unanimity rule) does not.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal European Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 46 (2002)
Issue (Month): 8 (September)
Pages: 1379-1397

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Handle: RePEc:eee:eecrev:v:46:y:2002:i:8:p:1379-1397
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/eer

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  1. Quigley, John M. & Rubinfeld, Daniel L., 1996. "Federalism and Reductions in the Federal Budget," Berkeley Program on Housing and Urban Policy, Working Paper Series qt28h7485r, Berkeley Program on Housing and Urban Policy.
  2. Seabright, Paul, 1996. "Accountability and decentralisation in government: An incomplete contracts model," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 61-89, January.
  3. David De Meza & Ben Lockwood, 1998. "Does Asset Ownership Always Motivate Managers? Outside Options And The Property Rights Theory Of The Firm," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(2), pages 361-386, May.
  4. Lockwood, Ben, 1998. "Distributive Politics and the Benefits of Decentralisation," CSGR Working papers series 10/98, Centre for the Study of Globalisation and Regionalisation (CSGR), University of Warwick.
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  7. Grossman, Sanford J. & Hart, Oliver D., 1986. "The Costs and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," Scholarly Articles 3450060, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  8. Oliver Hart & John Moore, 1988. "Property Rights and the Nature of the Firm," Working papers 495, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  9. Schmidt, Klaus M., 1996. "Incomplete contracts and privatization," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(3-5), pages 569-579, April.
  10. Caillaud, B. & Jullien, B. & Picard, P., 1996. "Hierarchical organization and incentives," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(3-5), pages 687-695, April.
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  13. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1996. "Federal Fiscal Constitutions: Risk Sharing and Redistribution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(5), pages 979-1009, October.
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