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Fiscal Equalization Schemes and Fiscal Sustainability

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  • Niklas Potrafke
  • Markus Reischmann

Abstract

Fiscal sustainability tests have largely ignored the institutional setting of fiscal policy making. Fiscal equalization schemes in federal states are one such institution. We examine whether German state governments pursue sustainable fiscal policies taking into account fiscal equalization transfers. Using panel data techniques we assess fiscal sustainability by investigating whether the debt-to-GDP-ratio has had a positive influence on the primary surplus (Bohn-model). Distinguishing between different measures of the primary surplus we show that including/excluding fiscal transfers changes the results of the Bohn-model. While fiscal equalization transfers do render the fiscal policy of the states sustainable they also provide the states with incentives to increase government spending which, eventually, might render the entire equalization scheme politically unsustainable.

Suggested Citation

  • Niklas Potrafke & Markus Reischmann, 2012. "Fiscal Equalization Schemes and Fiscal Sustainability," CESifo Working Paper Series 3948, CESifo.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3948
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    1. Salvador Barrios & Diego Martínez-López, 2017. "Fiscal equalization schemes and subcentral government borrowing," Chapters, in: Naoyuki Yoshino & Peter J. Morgan (ed.), Central and Local Government Relations in Asia, chapter 4, pages 130-160, Edward Elgar Publishing.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    fiscal sustainability; institutions; fiscal equalization schemes; panel data;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H77 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Intergovernmental Relations; Federalism
    • H72 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Budget and Expenditures
    • H62 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Deficit; Surplus
    • C23 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models

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