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Decentralization: Panacea or Pandora’s Box? Fiscal Perversity in Mexico

Author

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  • Roberto Guerrero Compeán

    () (Department of Urban Studies and Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.)

Abstract

Advocacy for decentralization has grown in Mexico at a rapid pace during the last decade. The gains of decentralization, however, are rather unclear and many times the assumptions and the outcomes of the process depart from the standard theory of fiscal federalism. There are serious drawbacks that should be considered before fully endorsing any decentralization program. As decentralization has progressed in Mexico, for instance, it has become evident that most of Mexican states have incurred in large fiscal deficits, majorly due to excessive overspending. This paper explains the reasons why such a trend has been observed in recent years based on a simultaneous equation model of state revenues and expenditures. The results suggest that increases in fiscal deficits are significantly associated with more intense political competition at the subnational sphere, the stage of the political business cycle, and fiscal perversity caused by political decentralization. This implies that regions expect to be bailed out by the federal government in case of financial trouble and thus do not have an incentive to observe fiscal discipline.

Suggested Citation

  • Roberto Guerrero Compeán, 2008. "Decentralization: Panacea or Pandora’s Box? Fiscal Perversity in Mexico," Ensayos Revista de Economia, Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon, Facultad de Economia, vol. 0(2), pages 89-110, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:ere:journl:v:xxvii:y:2008:i:2:p:89-110
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    File URL: http://www.economia.uanl.mx/revistaensayos/xxvii/2/Decentralization-Panacea.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Charles M. Tiebout, 1956. "A Pure Theory of Local Expenditures," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 64, pages 416-416.
    2. Xavier Calsamiglia & Teresa Garcia-Milà & Therese J. McGuire, 2004. "Why do Differences in the Degree of Fiscal Decentralization Endure?," Working Papers 193, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    3. repec:cup:apsrev:v:85:y:1991:i:04:p:1383-1391_18 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Era Dabla-Norris, 2006. "The Challenge of Fiscal Decentralisation in Transition Countries," Comparative Economic Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Association for Comparative Economic Studies, vol. 48(1), pages 100-131, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Germán-Soto, Vicente, 2005. "Generación del producto interno bruto mexicano por entidad federativa, 1940-1992," El Trimestre Económico, Fondo de Cultura Económica, vol. 0(287), pages 617-653, julio-sep.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    decentralization; fiscal perversity; Mexico;

    JEL classification:

    • 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
    • R51 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Regional Government Analysis - - - Finance in Urban and Rural Economies

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