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Vertical Grants and Local Public Efficiency: The Inference-disturbing Effect of Fiscal Equalization

Author

Listed:
  • Ivo Bischoff
  • Peter Bönisch
  • Peter Haug
  • Annette Illy

Abstract

The existing empirical literature on the impact of vertical grants on local public-sector efficiency yields mixed results. Given the fact that vertical financial equalization systems often reduce differences in fiscal capacity, we argue that empirical studies based on cross-sectional data may yield a positive relationship between grants and efficiency of public service production even when the underlying causal effect is not. We provide a simple illustrative theoretical model to show the logic of our argument and illustrate its relevance by an empirical case study for the German state of Saxony-Anhalt. We show that our main argument of an inference-disturbing effect applies to those existing studies that are more optimistic about the impact of vertical grants. Finally, we argue that it may disturb the inference drawn from studies in a number of other countries where vertical grants—intended or not—concentrate in fiscally weak municipalities.

Suggested Citation

  • Ivo Bischoff & Peter Bönisch & Peter Haug & Annette Illy, 2019. "Vertical Grants and Local Public Efficiency: The Inference-disturbing Effect of Fiscal Equalization," Public Finance Review, , vol. 47(3), pages 558-584, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:pubfin:v:47:y:2019:i:3:p:558-584
    DOI: 10.1177/1091142117725393
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Baskaran, Thushyanthan & Brender, Adi & Blesse, Sebastian & Reingewertz, Yaniv, 2016. "Revenue decentralization, central oversight and the political budget cycle: Evidence from Israel," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 1-16.
    2. Philippe Widmer & Peter Zweifel, 2012. "Fiscal Equalization, Tiebout Competition, and Incentives for Efficiency in a Federalist Country," Public Finance Review, , vol. 40(1), pages 3-29, January.
    3. Heikki Loikkanen & Ilkka Susiluoton, 2000. "Cost Efficiency of Finnish Municipalities in Basic Service Provision 1994-2002," Regional and Urban Modeling 283600056, EcoMod.
    4. Moisio, Antti, 2002. "Essays on Finnish Municipal Finance and Intergovernmental Grants," Research Reports 93, VATT Institute for Economic Research.
    5. Josip Glaurdić & Vuk Vuković, 2017. "Granting votes: exposing the political bias of intergovernmental grants using the within-between specification for panel data," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 171(1), pages 223-241, April.
    6. Peter Bogetoft & Lars Otto, 2011. "Benchmarking with DEA, SFA, and R," International Series in Operations Research and Management Science, Springer, number 978-1-4419-7961-2, December.
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