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Fiscal Decentralization and Public Sector Employment: A Cross-Country Analysis

This paper investigates the relationship between public sector employment and fiscal decentralization. We develop a theoretical framework modeling the interactions between the central and sub-national executives regarding the level of public employment at the central and sub-national government levels. In our empirical work, based on a large cross-country dataset, we find that, ceteris paribus, the level of total public sector employees in a country increases with its level of fiscal decentralization. Even though central government employment decreases with decentralization, this is more than fully offset by the increase in employment at the sub-national level accompanying decentralization. Our empirical results also indicate that the relationship between GDP per capita and public sector employment is not monotonic but quadratic, that total public sector employment is higher in unitary countries vis-à-vis federal countries, and that public employment increases with the country’s international economic openness.

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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 paper0903.

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Length: 49 pages
Date of creation: 01 Mar 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ays:ispwps:paper0903
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  1. Rama,Martin G., 1997. "Efficient public sector downsizing," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1840, The World Bank.
  2. Shelton, Cameron A., 2007. "The size and composition of government expenditure," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(11-12), pages 2230-2260, December.
  3. Nelson, Michael A, 1987. "Searching for Leviathan: Comment and Extension," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(1), pages 198-204, March.
  4. Stephan Danninger & Alberto Alesina & Massimo V. Rostagno, 1999. "Redistribution Through Public Employment: The Case of Italy," IMF Working Papers 99/177, International Monetary Fund.
  5. Alesina, Alberto & Baqir, Reza & Easterly, William, 2000. "Redistributive Public Employment," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(2), pages 219-241, September.
  6. Panizza, Ugo, 1999. "On the determinants of fiscal centralization: Theory and evidence," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(1), pages 97-139, October.
  7. Khemani, Stuti, 2004. "Political cycles in a developing economy: effect of elections in the Indian States," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 125-154, February.
  8. José Manuel Marqués Sevillano & Joan Rosselló Villallonga, 2004. "Public employment and regional redistribution in Spain," Hacienda Pública Española, IEF, vol. 170(3), pages 59-80, september.
  9. Richard M. Bird, 2000. "Intergovernmental Fiscal Relations: Universal Principles, Local Applications," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper0002, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
  10. Jonathan A. Rodden & Gunnar S. Eskeland (ed.), 2003. "Fiscal Decentralization and the Challenge of Hard Budget Constraints," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262182297, June.
  11. Jorge Martinez-Vazquez & Robert McNab, 1997. "Fiscal Decentralization, Economic Growth, and Democratic Governance," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper9707, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
  12. Oates, Wallace E, 1985. "Searching for Leviathan: An Empirical Study," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(4), pages 748-57, September.
  13. Hammouya, Messaoud, 1999. "Statistics on public sector employment : methodology, structures and trends," ILO Working Papers 336246, International Labour Organization.
  14. Ebel, Robert D. & Yilmaz, Serdar, 2002. "On the measurement and impact of fiscal decentralization," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2809, The World Bank.
  15. Gregory, Robert G. & Borland, Jeff, 1999. "Recent developments in public sector labor markets," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 53, pages 3573-3630 Elsevier.
  16. Giertz, J Fred, 1983. "State-Local Centralization and Income: A Theoretical Framework and Further Empirical Results," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 38(3), pages 398-408.
  17. International Monetary Fund, 1995. "Employment and Wages in the Public Sector: A Cross-Country Study," IMF Working Papers 95/70, International Monetary Fund.
  18. Forbes, Kevin F & Zampelli, Ernest M, 1989. "Is Leviathan a Mythical Beast?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(3), pages 568-77, June.
  19. John Joseph Wallis & Wallace E. Oates, 1988. "Decentralization in the Public Sector: An Empirical Study of State and Local Government," NBER Chapters, in: Fiscal Federalism: Quantitative Studies, pages 5-32 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Cameron A. Shelton, 2007. "The Size and Composition of Government Expenditure," Wesleyan Economics Working Papers 2007-002, Wesleyan University, Department of Economics.
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