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Institutions promoting budgetary discipline: evidence from Swedish municipalities

Conflicts of interest within hierarchic government organizations regarding the importance of fiscal discipline create the need for institutions that curb the bargaining power of units in charge of implementing policy and align their incentives to the interests of the whole organization. We examine this general public sector problem by collecting unique data on budget institutions and conflicts of interest within the Swedish municipalities. Our estimations suggest that institutions pertaining to both the planning stage and the implementation stage of the budget process are important for fiscal performance. The fiscal surplus is higher in municipalities that have centralized their budget process to some degree, and where local committees are allowed to carry over surpluses or forced to carry over deficits between fiscal years. The associations however differ between municipalities with different degrees of conflicts of interests, calling for further research to understand the incentives given by the result carry-over rules. We further find that the fiscal surplus is higher in municipalities where local managers face a relatively high risk of dismissal as a consequence of budget deficits.

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Paper provided by Lund University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 2011:8.

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Length: 38 pages
Date of creation: 31 Jan 2011
Date of revision: 20 Dec 2012
Publication status: Published as Dietrichson, Jens and Lina Maria Ellegård, 'Institutions improving fiscal performance: evidence from Swedish municipalities' in International Tax and Public Finance, 2015, pages 861-886.
Handle: RePEc:hhs:lunewp:2011_008
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Department of Economics, School of Economics and Management, Lund University, Box 7082, S-220 07 Lund,Sweden

Phone: +46 +46 222 0000
Fax: +46 +46 2224613
Web page: http://www.nek.lu.se/en

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  1. James M. Poterba, 1993. "State Responses to Fiscal Crisis: The Effects of Budgetary Institutionsand Politics," NBER Working Papers 4375, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  15. Jürgen von Hagen, 2002. "Fiscal Rules, Fiscal Institutions, and Fiscal Performance," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 33(3), pages 263-284.
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  17. Alberto Alesina & Tamim Bayoumi, 1996. "The Costs and Benefits of Fiscal Rules: Evidence from U.S. States," NBER Working Papers 5614, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. John Ashworth & Benny Geys & Bruno Heyndels, 2005. "Government Weakness and Local Public Debt Development in Flemish Municipalities," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 12(4), pages 395-422, August.
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