IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Federal tax-transfer policy and intergovernmental pre-commitment

  • Koethenbuerger, Marko

Federal and state governments often differ in the capacity to pre-commit to expenditure and tax policy. Whether the implied sequence of public decisions has any efficiency implications is the subject of this paper. We resort to a setting which contrary to most of the literature does not exhibit a perfect tax-base overlap. We show that a federal government's pre-commitment capacity is welfare-improving. Efficiency, however, does not improve over all decision margins. The welfare-increasing policy entails a more distorted level of public consumption. Moreover, welfare may also improve if local governments are able to pre-commit towards the upper level. The rationale is that although federal transfers are formally unconditional they nevertheless entail a tax-price effect; thereby potentially counteracting incentives to engage in a "race to the bottom" in fiscal competition among local governments.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Regional Science and Urban Economics.

Volume (Year): 38 (2008)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 16-31

in new window

Handle: RePEc:eee:regeco:v:38:y:2008:i:1:p:16-31
Contact details of provider: Web page:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Dixit, Avinash & Grossman, Gene M. & Helpman, Elhanan, 1997. "Common Agency and Coordination: General Theory and Application to Government Policy Making," Scholarly Articles 3450061, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. Mathias Dewatripont & Eric Maskin, 2004. "Credit and efficiency in centralized and decentralized economies," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/9605, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  3. Michael Keen, 1997. "Vertical Tax Externalities in the Theory of Fiscal Federalism," IMF Working Papers 97/173, International Monetary Fund.
  4. Janos Kornai & Eric Maskin & Gerard Roland, 2002. "Understanding the Soft Budget Constraint," Economics Working Papers 0019, Institute for Advanced Study, School of Social Science.
  5. Martín Rama & Guido Tabellini, . "Lobbying by Capital and Labor over Trade and Labor Market Policies," Working Papers 94, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  6. WILDASIN, David E., . "Interjurisdictional capital mobility: Fiscal externality and a corrective subsidy," CORE Discussion Papers RP 831, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  7. Gary S. Becker, 1981. "A Treatise on the Family," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number beck81-1, September.
  8. Bucovetsky, Sam & Wilson, John Douglas, 1991. "Tax competition with two tax instruments," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 333-350, November.
  9. von Hagen, Jurgen & Eichengreen, Barry, 1996. "Federalism, Fiscal Restraints, and European Monetary Union," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 134-38, May.
  10. M. Dewatripont & E. Maskin, 1995. "Credit and Efficiency in Centralized and Decentralized Economies," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 62(4), pages 541-555.
  11. Hoyt, William H., 2001. "Tax Policy Coordination, Vertical Externalities, and Optimal Taxation in a System of Hierarchical Governments," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 491-516, November.
  12. Bev Dahlby, 1996. "Fiscal externalities and the design of intergovernmental grants," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 3(3), pages 397-412, July.
  13. BOADWAY, Robin & MARCHAND, Maurice & VIGNEAULT, Marianne, . "The consequences of overlapping tax bases for redistribution and public spending in a federation," CORE Discussion Papers RP 1326, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  14. Masayoshi Hayashi & Robin Boadway, 2001. "An empirical analysis of intergovernmental tax interaction: the case of business income taxes in Canada," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 34(2), pages 481-503, May.
  15. Marko Köthenbürger, 2006. "Ex-Post Redistribution in a Federation: Implications for Corrective Policy," CESifo Working Paper Series 1754, CESifo Group Munich.
  16. Robin Boadway, 2003. "The Theory and Practice of Equalization," Working Papers 1016, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  17. Robin Boadway & Michael Keen, 1999. "Redistribution," Working Papers 983, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  18. Robin Boadway & Jean-Francois Tremblay, 2005. "A Theory of Vertical Fiscal Imbalance," Working Papers 2006-04, University of Kentucky, Institute for Federalism and Intergovernmental Relations.
  19. Martimort, David & Stole, Lars, 1999. "Contractual Externalities and Common Agency Equilibria," IDEI Working Papers 110, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse, revised 2003.
  20. Marko Köthenbürger, 2002. "Tax Competition and Fiscal Equalization," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 9(4), pages 391-408, August.
  21. Huizinga, Harry & Nielsen, Soren Bo, 2003. "Withholding taxes or information exchange: the taxation of international interest flows," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(1), pages 39-72, January.
  22. Michael J. Keen & Christos Kotsogiannis, 2002. "Does Federalism Lead to Excessively High Taxes?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 363-370, March.
  23. Motohiro Sato, 2000. "Fiscal Externalities and Efficient Transfers in a Federation," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 7(2), pages 119-139, March.
  24. Kuhn, Peter & Wooton, Ian, 1987. "International factor movements in the presence of a fixed factor," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1-2), pages 123-140, February.
  25. Bernheim, B Douglas & Whinston, Michael D, 1986. "Common Agency," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(4), pages 923-42, July.
  26. Weingast, Barry R & Shepsle, Kenneth A & Johnsen, Christopher, 1981. "The Political Economy of Benefits and Costs: A Neoclassical Approach to Distributive Politics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(4), pages 642-64, August.
  27. David E. Wildasin, 2001. "Externalities and Bailouts: Hard and Soft Budget Constraints in Intergovernmental Fiscal Relations," Public Economics 0112002, EconWPA.
  28. Zodrow, George R. & Mieszkowski, Peter, 1986. "Pigou, Tiebout, property taxation, and the underprovision of local public goods," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 356-370, May.
  29. Caplan, Arthur J. & Cornes, Richard C. & Silva, Emilson C. D., 2000. "Pure public goods and income redistribution in a federation with decentralized leadership and imperfect labor mobility," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(2), pages 265-284, August.
  30. Hoyt, William H. & Jensen, Richard A., 1996. "Precommitment in a system of hierarchical governments," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(5), pages 481-504, August.
  31. Kothenburger, Marko, 2004. "Tax competition in a fiscal union with decentralized leadership," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(3), pages 498-513, May.
  32. Avinash Dixit, 1996. "Special-Interest Lobbying and Endogenous Commodity Taxation," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 22(4), pages 375-388, Fall.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:regeco:v:38:y:2008:i:1:p:16-31. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Shamier, Wendy)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.