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Central Governance or Subsidiarity: A Property-Rights Approach to Federalism

  • Christoph Lülfesmann

The paper reconsiders the theory of fiscal federalism in a framework inspired by property-rights theory. We set up a two-period model where on a first stage a region in a federation can expend value-enhancing investments into a public project. The project can be implemented on a second stage, and causes spilovers on other regions. Under centralized as well as decentralized governance, negotiations on the federal level facilitate the realization of the efficient policy. Still, non-contractibility of investments causes the overall outcomes to differ across regimes. If the region with access to the public project bears the entire implementation costs of its policies, underinvestment prevails and subsidiarity (centralized governance) is superior when spillovers are weak (strong). Conversely, if linear cost-sharing arrangements are feasible, decentralized authority often leads to a socially optimal outcome while centralized authority (with majority or unanimity rule) does not.

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File URL: http://www.wiwi.uni-bonn.de/bgsepapers/bonedp/bgse5_2001.pdf
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Paper provided by University of Bonn, Germany in its series Bonn Econ Discussion Papers with number bgse5_2001.

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Length: 25
Date of creation: Oct 2000
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bon:bonedp:bgse5_2001
Contact details of provider: Postal: Bonn Graduate School of Economics, University of Bonn, Adenauerallee 24 - 26, 53113 Bonn, Germany
Fax: +49 228 73 6884
Web page: http://www.bgse.uni-bonn.de

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  1. Aghion, Philippe & Tirole, Jean, 1997. "Formal and Real Authority in Organizations," Scholarly Articles 4554125, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. Grossman, Sanford J & Hart, Oliver D, 1986. "The Costs and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(4), pages 691-719, August.
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  5. Caillaud, B. & Jullien, B. & Picard, P., 1996. "Hierarchical organization and incentives," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(3-5), pages 687-695, April.
  6. Hart, Oliver & Moore, John, 1990. "Property Rights and the Nature of the Firm," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1119-58, December.
  7. Quigley, John M. & Rubinfeld, Daniel L., 1996. "Federalism and Reductions in the Federal Budget," Berkeley Program on Housing and Urban Policy, Working Paper Series qt28h7485r, Berkeley Program on Housing and Urban Policy.
  8. Seabright, Paul, 1994. "Accountability and Decentralization in Government: An Incomplete Contracts Model," CEPR Discussion Papers 889, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Schmidt, Klaus M., 1996. "Incomplete contracts and privatization," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(3-5), pages 569-579, April.
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  11. Klibanoff, Peter & Morduch, Jonathan, 1995. "Decentralization, Externalities, and Efficiency," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 62(2), pages 223-47, April.
  12. Robert P. Inman & Daniel L. Rubinfeld, 1997. "Rethinking Federalism," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(4), pages 43-64, Fall.
  13. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1996. "Federal Fiscal Constitutions: Risk Sharing and Redistribution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(5), pages 979-1009, October.
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