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Why cities should not be subsidized

  • Fenge, Robert
  • Meier, Volker

The paper deals with the question of whether fiscal transfers received by cities can be justified by a higher cost of producing publicly provided goods. In the model, increasing the population density implies both a higher output per capita due to agglomeration economies and a higher cost of the publicly provided good due to congestion. It is shown that introducing fiscal transfers to be paid by the region with the lower population density will generally reduce welfare. This result is obtained since the city is already beyond the level of optimum agglomeration.

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Paper provided by University of Munich, Department of Economics in its series Munich Reprints in Economics with number 20356.

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Date of creation: 2002
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Journal of Urban Economics 3 52(2002): pp. 433-447
Handle: RePEc:lmu:muenar:20356
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Web page: http://www.vwl.uni-muenchen.de

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  1. Paul Krugman, 1990. "Increasing Returns and Economic Geography," NBER Working Papers 3275, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Papageorgiou, Yorgos Y. & Pines, David, 2000. "Externalities, Indivisibility, Nonreplicability, and Agglomeration," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(3), pages 509-535, November.
  3. Fujita, Masahisa & Thisse, Jacques-Francois, 1996. "Economics of Agglomeration," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 10(4), pages 339-378, December.
  4. Craig, Steven G., 1987. "The impact of congestion on local public good production," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 331-353, April.
  5. Flatters, Frank & Henderson, Vernon & Mieszkowski, Peter, 1974. "Public goods, efficiency, and regional fiscal equalization," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 99-112, May.
  6. Petchey, Jeffrey, 1995. "Resource Rents, Cost Differences and Fiscal Equalization," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 71(215), pages 343-53, December.
  7. Hochman, Oded, 1981. "Land rents, optimal taxation and local fiscal independence in an economy with local public goods," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 59-85, February.
  8. Robert P. Inman & Daniel L. Rubinfeld, 1997. "Rethinking Federalism," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(4), pages 43-64, Fall.
  9. Myers, Gordon M., 1990. "Optimality, free mobility, and the regional authority in a federation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 107-121, October.
  10. Edward L. Glaeser & David C. Mare, 1994. "Cities and Skills," NBER Working Papers 4728, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Anwar Shah, 1996. "A Fiscal Need Approach to Equalization," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 22(2), pages 99-115, June.
  12. Oates, Wallace E., 1988. "On the measurement of congestion in the provision of local public goods," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 85-94, July.
  13. Richter, Wolfram F. & Wellisch, Dietmar, 1996. "The provision of local public goods and factors in the presence of firm and household mobility," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 73-93, April.
  14. Duncan Black & Vernon Henderson, 1997. "Urban Growth," NBER Working Papers 6008, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Christian Baretti & Bernd Huber & Karl Lichtblau & Rüdiger Parsche, 2001. "Die Einwohnergewichtung auf Länderebene im Länderfinanzausgleich : [Gutachten im Auftrag der Länder Baden-Württemberg, Bayern, Hessen und Nordrhein-Westfalen] ; mit einem ergänzenden Gutachten des Zen," ifo Beiträge zur Wirtschaftsforschung, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, number 4.
  16. Robin W. Boadway & Frank R. Flatters, 1982. "Efficiency and Equalization Payments in a Federal System of Government: A Synthesis and Extension of Recent Results," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 15(4), pages 613-33, November.
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