IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/mar/volksw/200424.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Sustainable Fiscal Policy in a Federal System: Switzerland as an Example

Author

Listed:
  • Lars P. Feld

    (Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Philipps Universitaet Marburg)

  • Gebhard Kirchgässner

Abstract

How a sustainable fiscal policy can be performed in a federal system is not only a Swiss problem but is also discussed in other federal countries like Germany and Austria, and in the European Union. Contrary to most other countries, the Swiss fiscal system is characterised by an extensive fiscal federalism with high fiscal autonomy at all governmental levels, by direct popular rights which include fiscal referenda at the cantonal and local levels, and by particular constitutional and/or statutory fiscal restraints in order to prevent excessive public debt. In this paper, the effects of these constitutional clauses on public finances are investigated. Using a panel of the 26 Swiss cantons from 1980 to 1998, we provide evidence that direct democracy leads to significantly lower expenditure and revenue. The fiscal constraint, on the other hand, significantly reduces budget deficits. Total, cantonal as well as local expenditure and revenue are the lower the higher the share of local expenditure

Suggested Citation

  • Lars P. Feld & Gebhard Kirchgässner, 2004. "Sustainable Fiscal Policy in a Federal System: Switzerland as an Example," Marburg Working Papers on Economics 200424, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
  • Handle: RePEc:mar:volksw:200424
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.uni-marburg.de/fb02/makro/forschung/gelbereihe/artikel/2004-24-FeldKirchgaessnerDP_gesamt.pdf
    File Function: First version, 2004
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Lars P. Feld & Justina A.V. Fischer & Gebhard Kirchgässner, 2010. "The Effect Of Direct Democracy On Income Redistribution: Evidence For Switzerland," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 48(4), pages 817-840, October.
    2. Besley, Timothy & Smart, Michael, 2007. "Fiscal restraints and voter welfare," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(3-4), pages 755-773, April.
    3. Barankay, Iwan, 2002. "Referendums, citizens' initiatives, and the quality of public goods: Theory and evidence form Swiss Cantons," Royal Economic Society Annual Conference 2002 14, Royal Economic Society.
    4. Frey, Bruno S & Stutzer, Alois, 2000. "Happiness, Economy and Institutions," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(466), pages 918-938, October.
    5. Roubini, Nouriel & Sachs, Jeffrey D., 1989. "Political and economic determinants of budget deficits in the industrial democracies," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(5), pages 903-933, May.
    6. Caroline M. Hoxby, 2000. "Does Competition among Public Schools Benefit Students and Taxpayers?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1209-1238, December.
    7. Sam Peltzman, 1992. "Voters as Fiscal Conservatives," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(2), pages 327-361.
    8. Lars Feld & Christoph Schaltegger, 2005. "Voters AS A Hard Budget Constraint: On the Determination of Intergovernmental Grants," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 123(1), pages 147-169, April.
    9. Feld, Lars P. & Matsusaka, John G., 2003. "Budget referendums and government spending: evidence from Swiss cantons," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(12), pages 2703-2724, December.
    10. Brennan,Geoffrey & Buchanan,James M., 2006. "The Power to Tax," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521027922, July.
    11. T. A. Downes & D. N. Figlio, "undated". "School Finance Reforms, Tax Limits, and Student Performance: Do Reforms Level Up or Dumb Down?," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1142-97, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
    12. Downes, Thomas A. & Figlio, David N., 1999. "Do Tax and Expenditure Limits Provide a Free Lunch? Evidence on the Link Between Limits and Public Sector Service Quality," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 52(1), pages 113-128, March.
    13. 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, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 77(1), pages 27-48, July.
    14. Nouriel Roubini & Jeffrey Sachs, 1988. "Political and Economic Determinants of Budget Deficits in the IndustrialDemocracies," NBER Working Papers 2682, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Bohn, Henning & Inman, Robert P., 1996. "Balanced-budget rules and public deficits: evidence from the U.S. states," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 13-76, December.
    16. Lars P. Feld & John G. Matsusaka, 2000. "Budget Referendums and Government Spending: Evidence from Swiss," CESifo Working Paper Series 323, CESifo.
    17. O'Sullivan,Arthur & Sexton,Terri A. & Sheffrin,Steven M., 2007. "Property Taxes and Tax Revolts," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521035996, July.
    18. Werner W. Pommerehne & Albert Hart & Lars P. Feld, 1997. "Steuerhinterziehung und ihre Kontrolle in unterschiedlichen politischen Systemen," Homo Oeconomicus, Institute of SocioEconomics, vol. 14, pages 469-487.
    19. Rodden, Jonathan, 2003. "Reviving Leviathan: Fiscal Federalism and the Growth of Government," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 57(4), pages 695-729, October.
    20. Blomberg, S. Brock & Hess, Gregory D. & Weerapana, Akila, 2004. "The impact of voter initiatives on economic activity," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 207-226, March.
    21. Pommerehne, Werner W & Weck-Hannemann, Hannelore, 1996. "Tax Rates, Tax Administration and Income Tax Evasion in Switzerland," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 88(1-2), pages 161-170, July.
    22. Downes, Thomas A., 1992. "Evaluating the Impact of School Finance Reform on the Provision of Public Education: The California Case," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 45(4), pages 405-419, December.
    23. Figlio, David N. & Rueben, Kim S., 2001. "Tax limits and the qualifications of new teachers," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(1), pages 49-71, April.
    24. Eijffinger, Sylvester & Haan, Jakob de, 2000. "European Monetary and Fiscal Policy," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198776161.
    25. Feld, Lars P & Kirchgassner, Gebhard, 2001. "Does Direct Democracy Reduce Public Debt? Evidence from Swiss Municipalities," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 109(3-4), pages 347-370, December.
    26. Pommerehne, Werner W., 1978. "Institutional approaches to public expenditure : Empirical evidence from Swiss municipalities," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 255-280, April.
    27. Downes, Thomas A. & Dye, Richard F. & McGuire, Therese J., 1998. "Do Limits Matter? Evidence on the Effects of Tax Limitations on Student Performance," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(3), pages 401-417, May.
    28. Figlio, David N., 1998. "Short-Term Effects of a 1990s-Era Property Tax Limit: Panel Evidence on Oregon's Measure 5," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 51(1), pages 55-70, March.
    29. Downes, Thomas A., 1992. "Evaluating the Impact of School Finance Reform on the Provision of Public Education: The California Case," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 45(4), pages 405-19, December.
    30. Christoph A. Schaltegger & Lars P. Feld, 2001. "On Government Centralization and Budget Referendums: Evidence from Switzerland," CESifo Working Paper Series 615, CESifo.
    31. Feld, Lars P, 2000. "Tax Competition and Income Redistribution: An Empirical Analysis for Switzerland," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 105(1-2), pages 125-164, October.
    32. Kiewiet, D Roderick & Szakaly, Kristin, 1996. "Constitutional Limitations on Borrowing: An Analysis of State Bonded Indebtedness," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 12(1), pages 62-97, April.
    33. Gramlich, Edward M, 1990. "U.S. Federal Budget Deficits and Gramm-Rudman-Hollings," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 75-80, May.
    34. Feld, Lars P. & Schaltegger, Christoph A. & Schnellenbach, Jan, 2008. "On government centralization and fiscal referendums," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(4), pages 611-645, May.
    35. Downes, Thomas A. & Figlio, David N., 1999. "Do Tax and Expenditure Limits Provide a Free Lunch? Evidence on the Link Between Limits and Public Sector Service Quality," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 52(n. 1), pages 113-28, March.
    36. Ted Bergstrom & Judy Roberts & Dan Rubinfeld & Perry Shapiro, 1988. "A Test for Efficiency in the Supply of Local Public Education," Papers _036, University of Michigan, Department of Economics.
    37. Lars P. Feld & Marcel R. Savioz, 1997. "Direct Democracy Matters for Economic Performance: An Empirical Investigation," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(4), pages 507-538, November.
    38. Sexton, Terri A. & Sheffrin, Steven M. & O’Sullivan, Arthur, 1999. "Proposition 13: Unintended Effects and Feasible Reforms," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 52(1), pages 99-112, March.
    39. Lars P. Feld & Gebhard Kirchgassner, 1999. "Public Debt and Budgetary Procedures: Top Down or Bottom Up? Some Evidence from Swiss Municipalities," NBER Chapters, in: Fiscal Institutions and Fiscal Performance, pages 151-180, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    40. Feld, Lars P & Savioz, Marcel R, 1997. "Direct Democracy Matters for Economic Performance: An Empirical Investigation," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(4), pages 507-538.
    41. Lars P. Feld & Horst Zimmermann & Thomas Döring, 2003. "Föderalismus, Dezentralität und Wirtschaftswachstum," Vierteljahrshefte zur Wirtschaftsforschung / Quarterly Journal of Economic Research, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 72(3), pages 361-377.
    42. James M. Poterba, 1996. "Do Budget Rules Work?," NBER Working Papers 5550, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    43. Bergstrom, Theodore C. & Roberts, Judith A. & Rubinfeld, Daniel L. & Shapiro, Perry, 1988. "A test for efficiency in the supply of public education," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 289-307, April.
    44. Figlio, David N., 1997. "Did the "tax revolt" reduce school performance?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(3), pages 245-269, September.
    45. Matsusaka, John G, 1995. "Fiscal Effects of the Voter Initiative: Evidence from the Last 30 Years," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(3), pages 587-623, June.
    46. Kirchgassner, Gebhard & Pommerehne, Werner W., 1996. "Tax harmonization and tax competition in the European Union: Lessons from Switzerland," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(3), pages 351-371, June.
    47. Figlio, David N., 1998. "Short-Term Effects of a 1990s-Era Property Tax Limit: Panel Evidence on Oregon's Measure 5," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 51(n. 1), pages 55-70, March.
    48. Ronald J. Shadbegian, 1999. "Fiscal Federalism, Collusion, and Government Size: Evidence from the States," Public Finance Review, , vol. 27(3), pages 262-281, May.
    49. Sexton, Terri A. & Sheffrin, Steven M. & O’Sullivan, Arthur, 1999. "Proposition 13: Unintended Effects and Feasible Reforms," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 52(n. 1), pages 99-112, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Mariana Bode & Oliver Budzinski, 2005. "Competing Ways Towards International Antitrust: the WTO versus the ICN," Marburg Working Papers on Economics 200503, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
    2. Lars P. Feld & Gebhard Kirchgassner, 2006. "On the Effectiveness of Debt Brakes: The Swiss Experience," CREMA Working Paper Series 2006-21, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
    3. Burret, Heiko T. & Feld, Lars P., 2018. "(Un-)intended effects of fiscal rules," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 166-191.
    4. Gebhard Kirchgässner & Silika Prohl, 2008. "Sustainability of Swiss Fiscal Policy," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 144(I), pages 57-83, March.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Gebhard Kirchgassner, 2002. "The effects of fiscal institutions on public finance: a survey of the empirical evidence," Chapters, in: Stanley L. Winer & Hirofumi Shibata (ed.), Political Economy and Public Finance, chapter 9, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    2. Lars Feld, 2005. "The European constitution project from the perspective of constitutional political economy," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 122(3), pages 417-448, March.
    3. Gebhard Kirchgässner, 2010. "Direkte Demokratie," University of St. Gallen Department of Economics working paper series 2010 2010-26, Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen.
    4. Fischer, Justina A.V., 2007. "The Impact of Direct Democracy on Public Education: Evidence for Swiss Students in Reading, Mathematics and Natural Science," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 688, Stockholm School of Economics.
    5. Lars P. Feld & Gebhard Kirchgassner, 2006. "On the Effectiveness of Debt Brakes: The Swiss Experience," CREMA Working Paper Series 2006-21, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
    6. Lars P. Feld & Gebhard Kirchgässner, 2003. "The Role of Direct Democracy in the European Union," CESifo Working Paper Series 1083, CESifo.
    7. Justina A.V. Fischer, 2005. "Do Institutions of Direct Democracy Tame the Leviathan? Swiss Evidence on the Structure of Expenditure for Public Education," University of St. Gallen Department of Economics working paper series 2005 2005-22, Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen.
    8. Fischer, Justina AV, 2009. "Development of Direct Democracy in Swiss Cantons between 1997 and 2003," MPRA Paper 16140, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, "undated". "The Role of Direct Democracy and Federalism in Local Power," IEW - Working Papers 209, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
    10. Gebhard Kirchgässner, 2002. "Auswirkungen der direkten Demokratie auf die öffentlichen Finanzen: Empirische Ergebnisse für die Schweiz," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 138(IV), pages 411-426, December.
    11. Lorenz Blume & Jens Müller & Stefan Voigt, 2009. "The economic effects of direct democracy—a first global assessment," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 140(3), pages 431-461, September.
    12. John G. Matsusaka, 2005. "Direct Democracy Works," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(2), pages 185-206, Spring.
    13. Agnese Sacchi & Aline Pennisi, 2013. "Is direct democracy a problem or a promise for fiscal outcomes? The case of the United States," Departmental Working Papers of Economics - University 'Roma Tre' 0178, Department of Economics - University Roma Tre.
    14. Feld, Lars P. & Matsusaka, John G., 2003. "Budget referendums and government spending: evidence from Swiss cantons," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(12), pages 2703-2724, December.
    15. Phuong Nguyen-Hoang, 2012. "Fiscal effects of budget referendums: evidence from New York school districts," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 150(1), pages 77-95, January.
    16. Feld, Lars P & Kirchgassner, Gebhard, 2001. "Does Direct Democracy Reduce Public Debt? Evidence from Swiss Municipalities," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 109(3-4), pages 347-370, December.
    17. Burret, Heiko T. & Feld, Lars P., 2018. "(Un-)intended effects of fiscal rules," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 166-191.
    18. Lars P. Feld & Justina A.V. Fischer & Gebhard Kirchgässner, 2010. "The Effect Of Direct Democracy On Income Redistribution: Evidence For Switzerland," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 48(4), pages 817-840, October.
    19. Christoph A. Schaltegger & Lars P. Feld, 2004. "Do Large Cabinets Favor Large Governments? Evidence from Swiss Sub-Federal Jurisdictions," CESifo Working Paper Series 1294, CESifo.
    20. Lars P Feld, 2004. "On Tax Competition: The (Un-)Expected Advantages of Decentralized Fiscal Autonomy," Marburg Working Papers on Economics 200425, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Direct Democracy; Referenda; Initiatives.;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:mar:volksw:200424. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/vamarde.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Bernd Hayo (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/vamarde.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.