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Fiscal Flows, Fiscal Balance, and Fiscal Sustainability

  • Richard M. Bird

    (Director of the International Tax Program, Joseph L. Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto)

The search for “fiscal indicators” to provide a short-hand (and preferably quantitative) picture of the size, direction, and nature of intergovernmental finance – and, ideally, some guidance for policy designed to improve outcomes – appears to be neverending. “Fiscal balance” and “fiscal sustainability” are, for example, terms commonly heard in discussions of intergovernmental fiscal relations. These concepts sound like good things, and often policies are suggested that are intended to achieve them. “Fiscal flows” are perhaps less prominent in policy discussions, but this notion too is often very much in the minds of some of those engaged in such discussions. Indeed, in practice much of the discussion of both fiscal balance and fiscal sustainability often reduces to assertions about the present and projected future course of fiscal flows. The aim of this paper is to provide an overview of the uses and limits of these three approaches to measuring and interpreting the problems and progress of fiscal decentralization.

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File URL: http://icepp.gsu.edu/files/2015/03/ispwp0302.pdf
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Paper provided by International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University in its series International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU with number paper0302.

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Length: 28 pages
Date of creation: 01 Jan 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ays:ispwps:paper0302
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Web page: http://aysps.gsu.edu/isp/index.html

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  1. Ebel, Robert D. & Yilmaz, Serdar, 2002. "On the measurement and impact of fiscal decentralization," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2809, The World Bank.
  2. Jocelyn Horne, 1991. "Indicators of Fiscal Sustainability," IMF Working Papers 91/5, International Monetary Fund.
  3. Alberto F. Alesina & Roberto Perotti, 1999. "Budget Deficits and Budget Institutions," NBER Chapters, in: Fiscal Institutions and Fiscal Performance, pages 13-36 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Murray Petrie & Richard Hemming, 2000. "A Framework for Assessing Fiscal Vulnerability," IMF Working Papers 00/52, International Monetary Fund.
  5. Martinez-Vazquez, Jorge, 1982. "Fiscal Incidence at the Local Level," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(5), pages 1207-18, September.
  6. Nigel Andrew Chalk, 2002. "Structural Balances and All That; Which Indicators to Use in Assessing Fiscal Policy," IMF Working Papers 02/101, International Monetary Fund.
  7. Stavins, Robert N. & Wagner, Alexander F. & Wagner, Gernot, 2003. "Interpreting sustainability in economic terms: dynamic efficiency plus intergenerational equity," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 79(3), pages 339-343, June.
  8. Roy Bahl, 1999. "Intergovernmental Fiscal Relations in Leningrad Region," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper9902, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
  9. Campos, Ed & Pradhan, Sanjay, 1996. "Budgetary institutions and expenditure outcomes : binding governments to fiscal performance," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1646, The World Bank.
  10. Bird, Richard M., 1993. "Threading the Fiscal Labyrinth: Some Issues in Fiscal Decentralization," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 46(2), pages 207-27, June.
  11. M G Rao & A Das-Gupta, 1995. "Intergovernmental transfers and poverty alleviation," Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 13(1), pages 1-23, February.
  12. Bird, Richard M., 1989. "Taxation in Papua New Guinea: Backwards to the future?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 17(8), pages 1145-1157, August.
  13. Brennan,Geoffrey & Buchanan,James M., 1980. "The Power to Tax," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521233293.
  14. repec:ttp:itpwps:0504 is not listed on IDEAS
  15. Richard Bird & Andrey Tarasov, 2002. "Closing the Gap: Fiscal Imbalaces and Intergovernmental Transfers in Developed Federations," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper0202, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
  16. Walter Hettich & Stanley L. Winer, 1986. "Vertical Imbalance in the Fiscal Systems of Federal States," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 19(4), pages 745-65, November.
  17. Inman, Robert P, 1995. "How to Have a Fiscal Crisis: Lessons from Philadelphia," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(2), pages 378-83, May.
  18. Richard A. Musgrave, 1961. "Approaches to a Fiscal Theory of Political Federalism," NBER Chapters, in: Public Finances: Needs, Sources, and Utilization, pages 97-134 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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