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The marginal cost of public funds and the flypaper effect

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  • Bev Dahlby

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Abstract

A lump-sum intergovernmental transfer has a "price effect", as well as an "income effect", because it allows the recipient government to reduce its tax rate, which lowers its marginal cost of public funds, while still providing the same level of public service. This reduction in the effective price of providing the public service helps to explain the "flypaper effect" - the empirical observation that a lump-sum grant has a much larger effect on spending than an increase in personal income. Contrary to the assertions of Mieszkowski (1994) and Hines and Thaler (1995), a model of a benevolent local government financing its expenditures with a distortionary tax predicts flypaper effects from lump-sum grants that are similar to those observed in many econometric studies
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Suggested Citation

  • Bev Dahlby, 2011. "The marginal cost of public funds and the flypaper effect," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 18(3), pages 304-321, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:itaxpf:v:18:y:2011:i:3:p:304-321
    DOI: 10.1007/s10797-010-9160-x
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Lucie Gadenne, 2017. "Tax Me, but Spend Wisely? Sources of Public Finance and Government Accountability," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 9(1), pages 274-314, January.
    2. Vermeulen, W. & Allers, Maarten, 2014. "Fiscal equalization, capitalization and the flypaper effect," Research Report 14023-EEF, University of Groningen, Research Institute SOM (Systems, Organisations and Management).
    3. Bev Dahlby & Ergete Ferede, 2016. "The stimulative effects of intergovernmental grants and the marginal cost of public funds," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 23(1), pages 114-139, February.
    4. Massimiliano Ferraresi & Umberto Galmarini & Leonzio Rizzo & Alberto Zanardi, 2016. "Switch towards tax centralization in Italy: A wake up for the local political budget cycle," Working Papers 2016/21, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
    5. repec:hrs:journl:v:viii:y:2016:i:3:p:77-87 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. André Decoster & Serio Perelman & Dieter Vandelannoote & Toon Vanheukelom & Gerlinde Verbist, 2015. "A bird’s eye view on 20 years of tax-benefit reforms in Belgium," Working Papers 1502, Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp.
    7. Paulo Arvate & Enlinson Mattos, Fabiana Rocha, 2015. "Intergovernmental transfers and public spending in Brazilian municipalities," Working Papers, Department of Economics 2015_03, University of São Paulo (FEA-USP).
    8. repec:spa:wpaper:2014wpecon03 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Carlos A. Vegh y Guillermo Vuletin, 2016. "Unsticking the flypaper effect using distortionary taxation," Económica, Departamento de Economía, Facultad de Ciencias Económicas, Universidad Nacional de La Plata, vol. 62, pages 185-237, January-D.
    10. Decoster, André & Perelman, Sergio & Vandelannoote, Dieter & Vanheukelom, Toon & Verbist, Gerlinde, 2015. "A bird’s eye view on 20 years of tax-benefit reforms in Belgium," EUROMOD Working Papers EM10/15, EUROMOD at the Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    11. repec:hpe:journl:y:2017:v:222:i:3:p:91-108 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Allers, Maarten A. & Vermeulen, Wouter, 2016. "Capitalization of equalizing grants and the flypaper effect," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 115-129.
    13. Lauro Carnicelli & Fernando Antonio Slaibe Postali, 2014. "Oil windfalls and local fiscal effort: a propensity score analysis," Working Papers, Department of Economics 2014_03, University of São Paulo (FEA-USP).
    14. Orkhan ISMAYILOV, 2016. "Flypaper Nonprofits: Crowding In And Crowding Out Effects Of Grants On Nonprofit Finance," Regional Science Inquiry, Hellenic Association of Regional Scientists, vol. 0(3), pages 77-87, December.
    15. repec:dgr:rugsom:14023-eef is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Flypaper effect; Intergovernmental grants; Intergovernmental transfers; Fiscal federalism; Marginal cost of public funds; H77;

    JEL classification:

    • H71 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • 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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