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Piling On: Overlapping Jurisdictions & the Fiscal Common-Pool

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  • Christopher R. Berry

Abstract

This paper discusses the common-pool problems that arise when multiple territorially overlapping governments share the authority to provide services and levy taxes in a common geographic area. Contrary to the traditional Tiebout model in which increasing the number of competing governments improves efficiency, I argue that increasing the number of overlapping governments results in "overfishing" from the shared tax base. I test the model empirically using data from U.S. counties and find a strong positive relationship between the number of overlapping jurisdictions and the size of the local public sector. Substantively, the "overlap effect" is on the order of 5 to 25 percent of local revenue.

Suggested Citation

  • Christopher R. Berry, 2007. "Piling On: Overlapping Jurisdictions & the Fiscal Common-Pool," Working Papers 0705, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
  • Handle: RePEc:har:wpaper:0705
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    File URL: http://harrisschool.uchicago.edu/about/publications/working-papers/pdf/wp_07_05.pdf
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    Keywords

    government; tax base; local government;

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