The dynamics of municipal fiscal adjustment
The dynamic fiscal policy adjustment of local jurisdictions is investigated empirically using a panel of more than 1000 U.S. municipalities over a quarter of a century. Distinguishing own-source revenue, grants, expenditures, and debt service, the analysis is carried out using a vector error-correction model which takes account of the intertemporal budget constraint. The results indicate that a large part of the adjustment in response to fiscal imbalances takes place by offsetting changes in future expenditures. In addition, the results show that fiscal imbalances are financed to a significant extent by subsequent changes in grants. Decomposition of the sample according to average city population reveals that the basic pattern of fiscal adjustment is robust, although intergovernmental grants play a much more pronounced role in maintaining budget balance for large cities.
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