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Revisiting the “Decentralization Theorem” – On the Role of Externalities

  • Marko Köthenbürger

The “Decentralization Theorem” (Oates, 1972) is central to the discussion of fiscal federalism. We revisit the role of consumption spillovers in evaluating the merits of (de)centralization. Unlike the general prediction, a higher degree of spillovers may reduce the difference in utility of centralization and decentralization. The non-monotonicity result relates to the difference in expenditures on public consumption. Provided decentralized choices yield higher levels of public expenditure, a rise in the amount of spillovers allows residents to enjoy larger gains in public consumption (and thereby utility) under decentralization relative to centralization.

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File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/portal/page/portal/DocBase_Content/WP/WP-CESifo_Working_Papers/wp-cesifo-2007/wp-cesifo-2007-10/cesifo1_wp2128.pdf
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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 2128.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2128
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  1. Barro, Robert & Alesina, Alberto, 2002. "Currency Unions," Scholarly Articles 4551795, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. Jan K. Brueckner, 2005. "Fiscal Federalism and Economic Growth," Working Papers 050612, University of California-Irvine, Department of Economics.
  3. Charles M. Tiebout, 1956. "A Pure Theory of Local Expenditures," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 64, pages 416.
  4. Guido Tabellini, 2003. "Principles of Policymaking in the European Union: an Economic Perspective," Levine's Working Paper Archive 506439000000000157, David K. Levine.
  5. Rubinchik-Pessach, Anna, 2005. "Can decentralization be beneficial?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(7), pages 1231-1249, July.
  6. Alberto Alesina & Ignazio Angeloni & Federico Etro, 2005. "International Unions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 602-615, June.
  7. Bergstrom, Theodore & Blume, Lawrence & Varian, Hal, 1986. "On the private provision of public goods," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 25-49, February.
  8. Jan K. Brueckner, 2004. "Fiscal Decentralization with Distortionary Taxation: Tiebout vs. Tax Competition," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 11(2), pages 133-153, 03.
  9. Alesina, Alberto & Spolaore, Enrico, 1997. "On the Number and Size of Nations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1027-56, November.
  10. Wallace E. Oates, 1999. "An Essay on Fiscal Federalism," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(3), pages 1120-1149, September.
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