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The Economic Effects of Federalism and Decentralization – A Cross-Country Assessment

  • Stefan Voigt


    (Philipps-University Marburg)

  • Lorenz Blume


    (Department of Economics, Universitaet Kassel)

This paper is based on the conjecture that institutional details matter and that attempts to estimate the economic effects of federalism by drawing on a simple dummy variable neglect potentially important institutional details. Based on a principal component analysis, seven aspects of both federalism and decentralization are used as variables for explaining differences in (1) fiscal policy, (2) government effectiveness, (3) economic productivity, and (4) happiness. The results show that institutional details do, indeed, matter. Different aspects of federalism impact on the outcome variables in different degrees. This study adds to our knowledge on the transmission mechanisms of federalism and decentralization.

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Paper provided by Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung) in its series MAGKS Papers on Economics with number 200905.

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Length: 29 pages
Date of creation: 2009
Date of revision:
Publication status: Forthcoming in
Handle: RePEc:mar:magkse:200905
Contact details of provider: Postal: Universitätsstraße 25, 35037 Marburg
Phone: 06421/28-1722
Fax: 06421/28-4858
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  2. Stephen Knack & Philip Keefer, 1995. "Institutions And Economic Performance: Cross-Country Tests Using Alternative Institutional Measures," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 7(3), pages 207-227, November.
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  5. Freille, Sebastian & Haque, Mohammad Emranul & Kneller, Richard Anthony, 2007. "Federalism, decentralisation and corruption," MPRA Paper 27535, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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  10. Lorenz Blume & Jens Müller & Stefan Voigt & Carsten Wolf, 2009. "The economic effects of constitutions: replicating—and extending—Persson and Tabellini," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 139(1), pages 197-225, April.
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  17. Lars P. Feld & Gebhard Kirchgaessner & Christoph A. Schaltegger, 2010. "Decentralized Taxation and the Size of Government: Evidence from Swiss State and Local Governments," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 77(1), pages 27-48, July.
  18. Feld, Lars P. & Voigt, Stefan, 2003. "Economic growth and judicial independence: cross-country evidence using a new set of indicators," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 497-527, September.
  19. 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.
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  21. Axel Dreher, 2006. "Power to the People? The Impact of Decentralization on Governance," KOF Working papers 06-121, KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich.
  22. Charles M. Tiebout, 1956. "A Pure Theory of Local Expenditures," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 64, pages 416.
  23. Panizza, Ugo, 1999. "On the determinants of fiscal centralization: Theory and evidence," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(1), pages 97-139, October.
  24. Wildasin, David E., 1997. "Externalities and bailouts : hard and soft budget constraints in intergovernmental fiscal relations," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1843, The World Bank.
  25. Fisman, Raymond & Gatti, Roberta, 2000. "Decentralization and corruption - evidence across countries," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2290, The World Bank.
  26. Bednar,Jenna, 2009. "The Robust Federation," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521878999.
  27. Frey, Bruno S. & Luechinger, Simon, 2004. "Decentralization as a disincentive for terror," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 509-515, June.
  28. Olson, Mancur, Jr, 1969. "The Principle of "Fiscal Equivalence": The Division of Responsibilities among Different Levels of Government," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(2), pages 479-87, May.
  29. Treisman, Daniel, 2000. "The causes of corruption: a cross-national study," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 399-457, June.
  30. Ulrich Thießen, 2000. "Fiscal Federalism in Western European and Selected Other Countries: Centralization or Decentralization? What Is Better for Economic Growth?," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 224, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  31. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output Per Worker than Others?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(1), pages 83-116.
  32. Bjørnskov, Christian & Drehe, Axel & Fischer, Justina A.V., 2008. "On decentralization and life satisfaction," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 99(1), pages 147-151, April.
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