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Are Hard Budget Constraints for Sub-National Governments Always Efficient?

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  • Besfamille, Marin
  • Lockwood, Ben

Abstract

In fiscally decentralized countries, sub-national governments (SNGs) may face soft budget constraints and consequently invest and borrow too much. The policy literature claims that, with competitive capital markets and central governments imposing hard budget constraints (HBCs), inefficient investment by SNGs should not arise. We present a model where this is not the case: HBCs can be too "hard" and discourage investment that is socially efficient. The model combines a dynamic commitment problem as in Kornai, Maskin and Roland (2004) for central government with a moral hazard problem between central and SNG. The HBC over-incentivises the SNG to provide effort by penalizing it too much for project failure, thus leading ultimately to the possibility that socially efficient projects may not be undertaken.

Suggested Citation

  • Besfamille, Marin & Lockwood, Ben, 2004. "Are Hard Budget Constraints for Sub-National Governments Always Efficient?," Economic Research Papers 269611, University of Warwick - Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:uwarer:269611
    DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.269611
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    Cited by:

    1. Toshihiro Ihori, 2010. "Overlapping Tax Revenue, Soft Budget, and Rent Seeking," CIRJE F-Series CIRJE-F-750, CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo.
    2. Toshihiro Ihori, 2008. "Overlapping Tax Revenue, Local Debt Control and Soft-Budget Constraint," CIRJE F-Series CIRJE-F-552, CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo.
    3. Antonio SCIALA' & Paolo LIBERATI, 2008. "The Impact of Economic Openness on the Vertical Structure of the Public Sector," EcoMod2008 23800129, EcoMod.
    4. Takero Doi & Toshihiro Ihori, 2006. "Soft-Budget Constraints and Local Expenditures," CIRJE F-Series CIRJE-F-422, CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo.

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