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Vertical effects of fiscal rules: the Swiss experience

Author

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  • Heiko T. Burret

    (University of Freiburg)

  • Lars P. Feld

    (University of Freiburg)

Abstract

Formal fiscal rules have been introduced in many countries throughout the world. While most studies focus on the intra-jurisdictional effects of fiscal rules, vertical effects on the finances of other levels of government have yet to be explored thoroughly. From a theoretical point of view, vertical effects could work in opposite directions, i.e., improve and burden other levels’ finances. This paper is the first formally investigating the influence of Swiss debt brakes, which primarily target the cantonal level, on municipal finances. A difference-in-differences estimation (two-way fixed effects) of aggregated and disaggregated local panel data provides unique evidence that suggests little effect of budget constraints at the cantonal level on average municipal finances and fiscal decentralization. The results are confirmed by a wide range of robustness tests. If anything, cantonal debt brakes are associated with improved local finances and fiscal centralization. These findings run counter to popular fears and emphasize the possibility of positive spillover effects of fiscal rules.

Suggested Citation

  • Heiko T. Burret & Lars P. Feld, 2018. "Vertical effects of fiscal rules: the Swiss experience," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 25(3), pages 673-721, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:itaxpf:v:25:y:2018:i:3:d:10.1007_s10797-017-9467-y
    DOI: 10.1007/s10797-017-9467-y
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    Cited by:

    1. Hirota, Haruaki & Yunoue, Hideo, 2017. "The effects of the new fiscal rule and creative accounting: Empirical evidence from Japanese municipalities," MPRA Paper 79812, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Christian F. Pfeil & Lars P. Feld, 2016. "Does the Swiss Debt Brake Induce Sound Federal Finances? A Synthetic Control Analysis," CESifo Working Paper Series 6044, CESifo.
    3. Mihaela Tofan & Mihaela Onofrei & Anca-Florentina Vatamanu, 2020. "Fiscal Responsibility Legal Framework—New Paradigm for Fiscal Discipline in the EU," Risks, MDPI, vol. 8(3), pages 1-18, July.
    4. Heiko T. Burret & Lars P. Feld & Christoph A. Schaltegger, 2018. "Fiscal Federalism and Economic Performance - New Evidence from Switzerland," CESifo Working Paper Series 7250, CESifo.
    5. Feld, Lars P., 2018. "The quest for fiscal rules," Freiburg Discussion Papers on Constitutional Economics 18/09, Walter Eucken Institut e.V..
    6. Boldrick, Isabel, 2021. "Die Konjunkturreagibilität öffentlicher Investitionen am Beispiel der deutschen Schuldenbremse," CIW Discussion Papers 1/2021, University of Münster, Center for Interdisciplinary Economics (CIW).
    7. Christofzik, Désirée I. & Kessing, Sebastian G., 2018. "Does fiscal oversight matter?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 70-87.
    8. Cristiana Fiorelli & Nicola Pontarollo & Carolina Serpieri, 2022. "Legislative interventions for the Italian local public financial distress," Working Papers in Public Economics 219, University of Rome La Sapienza, Department of Economics and Law.
    9. Tsuyoshi Goto & Genki Yamamoto, 2018. "Creative Accounting and Municipal Mergers -A Theoretical and Empirical Approach-," OSIPP Discussion Paper 18E012, Osaka School of International Public Policy, Osaka University.
    10. Shun-ichiro Bessho & Haruaki Hirota, 2021. "Do Public Account Financial Statements Matter? Evidence from Japanese Municipalities," CIRJE F-Series CIRJE-F-1172, CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo.
    11. Banaszewska Monika, 2018. "Side Effects of Fiscal Rules: A Case of Polish Local Self‑Government," Economics and Business Review, Sciendo, vol. 4(1), pages 86-106, April.
    12. Clemens Fuest & Klaus Gründler & Niklas Potrafke & Marcel Fratzscher & Alexander Kriwoluzky & Claus Michelsen & Michael Hüther & Peter Bofinger & Lars P. Feld & Wolf Heinrich Reuter, 2019. "Schuldenbremse — Investitionshemmnis oder Vorbild für Europa? [Debt Brake — Investment Barrier or Role Model for Europe?]," Wirtschaftsdienst, Springer;ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, vol. 99(5), pages 307-329, May.
    13. Michele Salvi & Christoph A. Schaltegger & Lukas Schmid, 2020. "Fiscal Rules Cause Lower Debt: Evidence from Switzerland’s Federal Debt Containment Rule," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 73(4), pages 605-642, November.
    14. Larch, Martin & Orseau, Eloïse & van der Wielen, Wouter, 2021. "Do EU fiscal rules support or hinder counter-cyclical fiscal policy?," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 112(C).
    15. Szilárd Hegedûs & Csaba Lentner & Petronella Molnár, 2019. "Past and Future: New Ways in Municipal (Property) Management after Debt Consolidation," Public Finance Quarterly, State Audit Office of Hungary, vol. 64(1), pages 51-71.
    16. Feld, Lars P. & Schmidt, Christoph M. & Schnabel, Isabel & Truger, Achim & Wieland, Volker, 2019. "Den Strukturwandel meistern. Jahresgutachten 2019/20," Annual Economic Reports / Jahresgutachten, German Council of Economic Experts / Sachverständigenrat zur Begutachtung der gesamtwirtschaftlichen Entwicklung, volume 127, number 201920.
    17. Šagát Vladimír & Plaček Michal & Kolman Petr, 2019. "The Impact of Fiscal Rules on the Financial Management of Higher Self-Governing Units in the Slovak Republic," NISPAcee Journal of Public Administration and Policy, Sciendo, vol. 12(1), pages 135-159, June.
    18. Hirota, Haruaki & Yunoue, Hideo, 2022. "Fiscal rules and creative accounting: Evidence from Japanese municipalities," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 63(C).
    19. Christofzik, Désirée & Feld, Lars P. & Reuter, Wolf Heinrich & Yeter, Mustafa, 2018. "Uniting European fiscal rules: How to strenghten the fiscal framework," Working Papers 04/2018, German Council of Economic Experts / Sachverständigenrat zur Begutachtung der gesamtwirtschaftlichen Entwicklung.
    20. Heiko T. Burret & Lars P. Feld, 2016. "Effects of Fiscal Rules - 85 Years' Experience in Switzerland," CESifo Working Paper Series 6063, CESifo.
    21. Bury, Yannick & Feld, Lars P., 2022. "Zum Zusammenhang zwischen kommunaler Finanzverfassung und kommunaler Finanzlage," Freiburg Discussion Papers on Constitutional Economics 22/05, Walter Eucken Institut e.V..

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Fiscal rule; Vertical effect; Fiscal shock; Decentralization; Sub-national finances;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H60 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - General
    • H77 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Intergovernmental Relations; Federalism
    • H74 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Borrowing
    • H72 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Budget and Expenditures

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