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Granting public or private consumption? Effects of grants on local public spending and income taxes


  • Lundqvist, Heléne


While the literature on how intergovernmental grants affect the budget of receiving jurisdictions is numerous, the very few studies that explicitly deal with likely endogeneity problems focus on grants targeted towards specific sectors or to specific type of recipients. The results from these studies are mixed and make clear that knowledge about grants effects is to this date still insufficient. This paper contributes by estimating causal effects on local expenditures and income tax rates of general, nontargeted grants to Finnish municipalities. This is done in a difference-in-difference model utilizing policy-induced increases in grants to a group of remotely populated municipalities. The robust finding is that increased grants have a negligible effect on local income tax rates, but that there is an immediate one-to-one correspondence between grants and local expenditures. Furthermore, expenditures continue to increase also some time after the grant increase, although this response is estimated less precisely. The flypaper behavior displayed by the treatment group can potentially be explained by 'sepa-rate mental accounting'' – i.e., voters treating the government budget constraint separately from their own.

Suggested Citation

  • Lundqvist, Heléne, 2010. "Granting public or private consumption? Effects of grants on local public spending and income taxes," Working Papers 15, VATT Institute for Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:fer:wpaper:15

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Vermeulen, W. & Allers, Maarten, 2014. "Fiscal equalization, capitalization and the flypaper effect," Research Report 14023-EEF, University of Groningen, Research Institute SOM (Systems, Organisations and Management).
    2. repec:spr:empeco:v:53:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s00181-016-1155-8 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Meriläinen, Jaakko, 2013. "Do Single-Party and Coalition Governments Differ in their Economic Outcomes? Evidence from Finnish Municipalities," Working Papers 51, VATT Institute for Economic Research.
    4. Michihito Ando, 2017. "How much should we trust regression-kink-design estimates?," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 53(3), pages 1287-1322, November.
    5. Paulo Arvate & Enlinson Mattos, Fabiana Rocha, 2015. "Intergovernmental transfers and public spending in Brazilian municipalities," Working Papers, Department of Economics 2015_03, University of São Paulo (FEA-USP).
    6. Mark Kattenberg & Wouter Vermeulen, 2015. "The stimulative effect of an unconditional block grant on the decentralized provision of care," CPB Discussion Paper 308, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.
    7. Eerola, Essi & Lyytikäinen, Teemu, 2015. "On the role of public price information in housing markets," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 74-84.
    8. Allers, Maarten A. & Vermeulen, Wouter, 2016. "Capitalization of equalizing grants and the flypaper effect," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 115-129.
    9. repec:kap:itaxpf:v:25:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s10797-017-9442-7 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Chang Liu & Guangrong Ma, 2016. "Taxation without representation: local fiscal response to intergovernmental transfers in China," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 23(5), pages 854-874, October.

    More about this item


    Intergovernmental grants; difference-in-difference model; fly-paper effect; Taxation; Verotus; Effectiveness of public services; Julkisten palvelujen vaikuttavuus; C230 - Econometric Methods: Single Equation Models; Single Variables: Models with Panel Data; H710 - State and Local Taxation; Subsidies; and Revenue; H720 - State and Local Budget and Expenditures; H770 - Intergovernmental Relations; Federalism; R510 - Finance in Urban and Rural Economies;

    JEL classification:

    • H72 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Budget and Expenditures
    • C23 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models
    • H71 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • R51 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Regional Government Analysis - - - Finance in Urban and Rural Economies
    • H77 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Intergovernmental Relations; Federalism

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