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Fiscal decentralization, revenue and expenditure assignments, and growth in China

  • Jing Jin

    (Central University of Finance and Economics)

  • Heng-fu Zou

    (Peking University and Wuhan University
    Research Department, The World Bank)

Theory suggests that a close match between revenue and expenditure assignments at sub-national levels benefits allocative efficiency, and hence economic growth. That is, a convergence of revenue and expenditure assignments at sub-national levels of government should, according to the theory, be positively associated with a higher growth rate. In the case of China, this paper shows, divergence, rather than convergence, in revenue and expenditures at the sub-national level of government is associated with higher rates of growth. A panel dataset for 30 provinces in China is used to examine the relationship between fiscal decentralization and economic growth over two phases of fiscal decentralization in China: (1) 1979¨C1993 under the fiscal contract system, and (2) 1994¨C1999 under the tax assignment system. The seeming contradiction between the theory and evidence in the China case is reconciled by taking into account the institutional arrangements that prevailed during the two phases of fiscal decentralization, in particular the inconsistency between the assumptions of the theory of fiscal decentralization and the institutional reality of China.

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Paper provided by China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics in its series CEMA Working Papers with number 169.

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Length: 18 pages
Date of creation: 2004
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Journal of Asian Economics, Volume 16, Issue 6, December 2005, Pages 1047-1064
Handle: RePEc:cuf:wpaper:169
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://cema.cufe.edu.cn/

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  1. Zhang, Tao & Zou, Heng-fu, 1998. "Fiscal decentralization, public spending, and economic growth in China," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 221-240, February.
  2. Yingyi Qian, 1999. "The Institutional Foundations of China's Market Transition," Working Papers 99011, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
  3. Xie, Danyang & Zou, Heng-fu & Davoodi, Hamid, 1999. "Fiscal Decentralization and Economic Growth in the United States," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(2), pages 228-239, March.
  4. de Mello, Luiz Jr, 2000. "Fiscal Decentralization and Intergovernmental Fiscal Relations: A Cross-Country Analysis," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 365-380, February.
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  11. Hehui Jin & Yingyi Qian & Barry Weingast, 1999. "Regional Decentralization and Fiscal Incentives: Federalism, Chinese Style," Working Papers 99013, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
  12. Hamid Davoodi & Heng-fu Zou, 1996. "Fiscal Decentralization and Economic Growth: A Cross-Country Study," CEMA Working Papers 98, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
  13. Bahl, Roy W. & Wallich, Christine, 1992. "Intergovernmental fiscal relations in China," Policy Research Working Paper Series 863, The World Bank.
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  15. Feder, Gershon, 1983. "On exports and economic growth," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(1-2), pages 59-73.
  16. Alwyn Young, 2000. "The Razor'S Edge: Distortions And Incremental Reform In The People'S Republic Of China," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(4), pages 1091-1135, November.
  17. Yingyi Qian & Barry R. Weingast, 1997. "Federalism as a Commitment to Reserving Market Incentives," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(4), pages 83-92, Fall.
  18. Jan K. Brueckner, 2000. "Fiscal Decentralization in Developing Countries: The Effects of Local Corruption and Tax Evasion," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 1(1), pages 1-18, May.
  19. Ebel, Robert D. & Yilmaz, Serdar, 2002. "On the measurement and impact of fiscal decentralization," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2809, The World Bank.
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