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The Illusion of Fiscal Illusion: Unsticking the Flypaper Effect

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  • Becker, Elizabeth

Abstract

Recognizing that it is difficult to prove a negative, this paper marshals evidence in support of the hypothesis that the widely documented flypaper effect of federal grants to state and local governments is purely a statistical artifact. A review of previous studies and a Monte Carlo investigation suggest that the use of an inappropriate functional form may generate an illusory flypaper effect. A local expenditure equation is then estimated in alternative specifications with ten years of state level data. Empirical results confirm the sensitivity of the flypaper effect to specification, and tests of fit unambiguously favor one functional form. That specification yields no statistical evidence of a flypaper effect. Copyright 1996 by Kluwer Academic Publishers

Suggested Citation

  • Becker, Elizabeth, 1996. "The Illusion of Fiscal Illusion: Unsticking the Flypaper Effect," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 86(1-2), pages 85-102, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:86:y:1996:i:1-2:p:85-102
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Brian Knight, 2000. "The flypaper effect unstuck: evidence on endogenous grants from the Federal Highway Aid Program," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2000-49, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    2. Vittoria Idrisova & Lev Freinkman, 2010. "Impact of Federal Transfers over Regional Authorities Behavior," Research Paper Series, Gaidar Institute for Economic Policy, issue 137P.
    3. Matz Dahlberg & Eva Mörk & Jørn Rattsø & Hanna Ã…gren, 2006. "Using a Discontinuous Grant to Identify the Effect of Grants on Local Taxes and Spending," CESifo Working Paper Series 1857, CESifo Group Munich.
    4. Becerra, Ligia Melo, 2004. "Intergovernmental fiscal relations : the Colombian case," Economics PhD Theses 0304, Department of Economics, University of Sussex.
    5. Sergio Clavijo, 2005. "Tributación, Equidad y Eficiencia en Colombia: Guía para Salir de un Sistema Amalgamado," Borradores de Economia 325, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.
    6. Yihua Yu & Jing Wang & Xi Tian, 2016. "Identifying the Flypaper Effect in the Presence of Spatial Dependence: Evidence from Education in China's Counties," Growth and Change, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(1), pages 93-110, March.
    7. repec:agr:journl:v:3(612):y:2017:i:3(612):p:115-124 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Moisio, Antti, 2002. "Determinants of Expenditure Variation in Finnish Municipalities," Discussion Papers 269, VATT Institute for Economic Research.
    9. Dahlberg, Matz & Mörk, Eva & Rattsø, Jørn & Ågren, Hanna, 2008. "Using a discontinuous grant rule to identify the effect of grants on local taxes and spending," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(12), pages 2320-2335, December.
    10. 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).
    11. Dahlberg, M. & Jacob, J., 2000. "Sluggishness, Endogeneity and the Demand for Local Public Services," Papers 2000:17, Uppsala - Working Paper Series.
    12. Juan González Alegre, 2012. "An evaluation of EU regional policy. Do structural actions crowd out public spending?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 151(1), pages 1-21, April.
    13. Facchini, Francois, 2014. "The determinants of public spending: a survey in a methodological perspective," MPRA Paper 53006, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    14. Roberto Dell'Anno & Vincenzo Maria De Rosa, 2013. "The Relevance of the Theory of Fiscal Illusion. The Case of the Italian Tax System," HISTORY OF ECONOMIC THOUGHT AND POLICY, FrancoAngeli Editore, vol. 2013(2), pages 63-92.
    15. Heléne Lundqvist, 2015. "Granting public or private consumption? Effects of grants on local public spending and income taxes," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 22(1), pages 41-72, February.
    16. Elena Gennari & Giovanna Messina, 2014. "How sticky are local expenditures in Italy? Assessing the relevance of the flypaper effect through municipal data," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 21(2), pages 324-344, April.
    17. Korzhenevych, Artem & Langer, Sebastian, 2016. "The Flypaper Effect in Germany: An East-West Comparison," CEPIE Working Papers 10/16, Technische Universität Dresden, Center of Public and International Economics (CEPIE).
    18. Saastamoinen, Antti & Kortelainen, Mika, 2018. "When does money stick in education? Evidence from a kinked grant rule," Working Papers 102, VATT Institute for Economic Research.
    19. Brian Knight, 2002. "Endogenous Federal Grants and Crowd-out of State Government Spending: Theory and Evidence from the Federal Highway Aid Program," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 71-92, March.
    20. Fernando M. Aragon, 2013. "Local Spending, Transfers, and Costly Tax Collection," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 66(2), pages 343-370, June.
    21. Laura Sour, 2013. "The flypaper effect in Mexican local government," Estudios Económicos, El Colegio de México, Centro de Estudios Económicos, vol. 28(1), pages 165-186.
    22. John Yinger & Phuong Nguyen-Hoang, 2015. "The Behavioral Impacts of Poverty Tax Relief: Salience or Framing?," Center for Policy Research Working Papers 186, Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School, Syracuse University.
    23. Sergio Clavijo, 2005. "TRIBUTACION, EQUIDAD Y EFICIENCIA EN COLOMBIA: Guía para Salir de un Sistema Tributario Amalgamado," BORRADORES DE ECONOMIA 003663, BANCO DE LA REPÚBLICA.
    24. James LeSage & Matthew Dominguez, 2012. "The importance of modeling spatial spillovers in public choice analysis," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 150(3), pages 525-545, March.

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