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Fiscal rules to tame the political budget cycle: Evidence from Italian municipalities

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  • Bonfatti, Andrea
  • Forni, Lorenzo

Abstract

The paper provides evidence that fiscal rules can limit the political budget cycle. It uses data on Italian municipalities during the 2000s and shows that: 1) municipalities are subject to political budget cycles in capital spending; 2) the Italian sub-national fiscal rule (Domestic Stability Pact, DSP) introduced in 1999 has been enforced by the central government; 3) municipalities subject to the fiscal rule show more limited political budget cycles than municipalities not subject to the rule. In order to identify the effect, we rely on the fact that the domestic fiscal rule does not apply to municipalities below 5000 inhabitants. We find that the political budget cycle increases real capital spending by about 10–20 percent on average in the years prior to municipal elections and that municipalities subject to the DSP show a pre-electoral increase in capital spending which is only a quarter of the one of municipalities not subject to the rule.

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  • Bonfatti, Andrea & Forni, Lorenzo, 2019. "Fiscal rules to tame the political budget cycle: Evidence from Italian municipalities," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 60(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:poleco:v:60:y:2019:i:c:s0176268019300230
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ejpoleco.2019.06.001
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    Cited by:

    1. Federico Revelli & Roberto Zotti, 2019. "The sacred and the profane of budget cycles: evidence from Italian municipalities," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 26(6), pages 1446-1477, December.
    2. Christofzik, Désirée I. & Kessing, Sebastian G., 2018. "Does fiscal oversight matter?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 70-87.
    3. Asatryan, Zareh & Castellón, César & Stratmann, Thomas, 2018. "Balanced budget rules and fiscal outcomes: Evidence from historical constitutions," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 167(C), pages 105-119.
    4. Borge, Lars-Erik & Hopland, Arnt O., 2020. "Less fiscal oversight, more adjustment," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 63(C).
    5. Kodjovi M. Eklou & Marcelin Joanis, 2019. "Do Fiscal Rules Cause Fiscal Discipline Over the Electoral Cycle?," IMF Working Papers 2019/291, International Monetary Fund.
    6. Revelli, Federico, 2019. "The electoral migration cycle," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 461-482.
    7. Boll, David & Sidki, Marcus, 2021. "The influence of political fragmentation on public enterprises: Evidence from German municipalities," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 67(C).
    8. Burret, Heiko T. & Feld, Lars P., 2018. "(Un-)intended effects of fiscal rules," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 166-191.
    9. Raveh, Ohad & Tsur, Yacov, 2020. "Reelection, growth and public debt," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 63(C).
    10. Venturini, Fiorenza, 2020. "The unintended composition effect of the subnational government fiscal rules: The case of Italian municipalities," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 63(C).
    11. Ardanaz, Martín & Hallerberg, Mark & Scartascini, Carlos, 2020. "Fiscal consolidations and electoral outcomes in emerging economies: Does the policy mix matter? Macro and micro level evidence from Latin America," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 64(C).
    12. Viera Papcunová & Jarmila Hudáková & Michaela Štubňová & Marta Urbaníková, 2020. "Revenues of Municipalities as a Tool of Local Self-Government Development (Comparative Study)," Administrative Sciences, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 10(4), pages 1-23, December.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Political budget cycle; Fiscal rules; Local governments; Difference-in-difference; Regression discontinuity;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C21 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models
    • C23 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models
    • H62 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Deficit; Surplus
    • H72 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Budget and Expenditures
    • H77 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Intergovernmental Relations; Federalism

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