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Local government consolidations: The impact of political transaction costs

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  • Rune Sørensen

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Abstract

Local government in Norway comprises a large number of small municipalities. Cost efficiency can be improved by consolidating local authorities, and central government has designed a framework to stimulate voluntary mergers. Existing theories suggest that political transaction costs will impede consolidations. (1) Generous grants compensate diseconomies of scale. Central government has promised small municipalities that grant levels will be maintained, but policy promises may not be credible. (2) Property rights to local revenues are nullified when consolidations have been implemented. High-revenue municipalities will therefore go against merger with a poorer neighbor. (3) A consolidated local council may be composed of different political parties, and it may therefore pursue other policies than an existing council. Expected changes in party strength can lead municipalities to oppose a proposed consolidation. (4) Senior politicians are less likely to support mergers, particularly if they come from small polities. We offer an explicit test of these propositions based on data for Norwegian local government. Elected politicians and administrative leaders are more interested in consolidating when efficiency gains are large. Local revenue disparities and to some extent dissimilar party preferences are significant impediments to voluntary mergers. Additionally, smaller municipalities are often prepared to sacrifice some efficiency gain to remain independent polities. Copyright Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2006

Suggested Citation

  • Rune Sørensen, 2006. "Local government consolidations: The impact of political transaction costs," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 127(1), pages 75-95, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:127:y:2006:i:1:p:75-95
    DOI: 10.1007/s11127-006-7106-8
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s11127-006-7106-8
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    1. Alberto Alesina & Enrico Spolaore, 1997. "On the Number and Size of Nations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1027-1056.
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    7. Borge, Lars-Erik & Sorensen, Rune J, 2002. "Aggregating Spending Preferences: An Empirical Analysis of Party Preferences in Norwegian Local Governments," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 110(3-4), pages 225-243, March.
    8. Johansson, Eva, 2003. "Intergovernmental grants as a tactical instrument: empirical evidence from Swedish municipalities," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(5-6), pages 883-915, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hans Pitlik & Klaus Wirth, 2012. "Municipal Structural Reform and Inter-municipal Cooperation," WIFO Monatsberichte (monthly reports), WIFO, vol. 85(12), pages 957-967, December.
    2. Dur, Robert & Staal, Klaas, 2008. "Local public good provision, municipal consolidation, and national transfers," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 160-173, March.
    3. Edoardo Di Porto & Vincent Merlin & Sonia Paty, 2013. "Cooperation among local governments to deliver public services : a "structural" bivariate response model with fixed effects and endogenous covariate," Working Papers halshs-00787600, HAL.
    4. Luiz de Mello & Santiago Lago-Pe-as, 2013. "Local government cooperation for joint provision: the experiences of Brazil and Spain with inter-municipal consortia," Chapters,in: The Challenge of Local Government Size, chapter 9, pages 221-241 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    5. Edoardo Di Porto & Angela Parenti & Sonia Paty & Zineb Abidi, 2017. "Local government cooperation at work: a control function approach," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(2), pages 435-463.
    6. Dino Rizzi & Michele Zanette, 2015. "A Procedure for the Ex-Ante Assessment of Compulsory Municipal Amalgamation Programs," Working Papers 2015:22, Department of Economics, University of Venice "Ca' Foscari".
    7. repec:bla:jorssa:v:180:y:2017:i:2:p:633-656 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Takeshi Miyazaki, 2014. "Municipal consolidation and local government behavior: evidence from Japanese voting data on merger referenda," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 15(4), pages 387-410, November.
    9. Miyazaki, Takeshi, 2013. "Municipal Consolidation and Local Government Behavior: Evidence from Japanese Voting Data on Merger Referenda," Discussion Paper Series 588, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
    10. Sebastian Blesse & Felix Rösel, 2017. "Gebietsreformen: Hoffnungen, Risiken und Alternativen," ifo Working Paper Series 234, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.

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