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Is there strength in unity? Some preliminary evidence on inter-municipal cooperation in Italy


  • Stefano Manestra

    () (Bank of Italy)

  • Giovanna Messina

    () (Bank of Italy)

  • Anna Peta

    () (Bank of Italy)


This paper focuses on municipal unions, the most structured form of inter-municipal cooperation in Italy. Using information from multiple sources, we have built up an administrative database covering more than 500 municipal unions over the period 1998-2015. By cross-checking the information on the municipalities participating in each union with the figures from their financial statements, we have been able to follow the trend in their expenditure both before and after joining the union, acknowledging that time is needed for the effects of the cooperation to manifest themselves. We have replicated this analysis for single municipal functions in order to detect potential heterogeneity in the resulting economies of scale. The results show that belonging to a union has led to a reduction in expenditure only for some municipal functions (such as general administration, local police, roads and traffic) and over a certain time period. The main contribution of our work is that we have studied the effects of inter-municipal cooperation from a temporal perspective largely unexplored in previous studies of the Italian case.

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  • Stefano Manestra & Giovanna Messina & Anna Peta, 2018. "Is there strength in unity? Some preliminary evidence on inter-municipal cooperation in Italy," Questioni di Economia e Finanza (Occasional Papers) 452, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  • Handle: RePEc:bdi:opques:qef_452_18

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Albert Solé-Ollé & Núria Bosch, 2005. "On the Relationship between Authority Size and the Costs of Providing Local Services: Lessons for the Design of Intergovernmental Transfers in Spain," Public Finance Review, , vol. 33(3), pages 343-384, May.
    2. Quentin Frère & Matthieu Leprince & Sonia Paty, 2014. "The Impact of Intermunicipal Cooperation on Local Public Spending," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 51(8), pages 1741-1760, June.
    3. Juan Luis Gómez-Reino & Jorge Martinez-Vazquez, 2013. "An international perspective on the determinants of local government fragmentation," Chapters,in: The Challenge of Local Government Size, chapter 2, pages 8-54 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    4. Avinash Dixit, 1973. "The Optimum Factory Town," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 4(2), pages 637-654, Autumn.
    5. Geys, Benny & Heinemann, Friedrich & Kalb, Alexander, 2007. "Local Governments in the Wake of Demographic Change: Efficiency and Economies of Scale in German Municipalities," ZEW Discussion Papers 07-036, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.
    6. Sabrina Iommi & Donatella Marinari, 2016. "Frammentazione comunale e spesa pubblica: una proposta di aggregazione sui sistemi locali del lavoro," ECONOMIA PUBBLICA, FrancoAngeli Editore, vol. 2016(1), pages 107-136.
    7. Giampaolo Arachi & Giuseppe Di Liddo & Michele G. Giuranno, 2016. "Cooperazione locale in Italia: le unioni di comuni," ECONOMIA PUBBLICA, FrancoAngeli Editore, vol. 2016(1), pages 11-36.
    8. Reto Steiner, 2003. "The causes, spread and effects of intermunicipal cooperation and municipal mergers in Switzerland," Public Management Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 5(4), pages 551-571, December.
    9. Giovanna Di Ielsi & Francesco Porcelli & Alberto Zanardi, 2016. "La valutazione dell’efficienza nelle forme associate dei Comuni italiani: la lezione dei fabbisogni standard," ECONOMIA PUBBLICA, FrancoAngeli Editore, vol. 2016(1), pages 37-58.
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    More about this item


    Municipal Unions; public expenditure; economies of scale;

    JEL classification:

    • H50 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - General
    • H70 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - General
    • H72 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Budget and Expenditures

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