IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/14628.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

A Political Economy Theory of Partial Decentralization

Author

Listed:
  • John William Hatfield
  • Gerard Padró i Miquel

Abstract

We revisit the classic problem of tax competition in the context of federal nations, and derive a positive theory of partial decentralization. A capital poor median voter wants to use capital taxes to provide public goods. This results in redistributive public good provision. As a consequence, when all public goods are provided by the central government, capital taxes and public good provision are high. The expectation of high capital taxes, however, results in a small capital stock which lowers returns to redistribution. The median voter would therefore like to commit to a lower level of capital taxes. Decentralization provides such a commitment: local governments avoid using capital taxes due to the pressure of tax competition. We therefore obtain that the median voter favors a partial degree of decentralization. The equilibrium degree of decentralization is non-monotonic in inequality, increasing in the redistributive efficiency of public good provision, and decreasing in capital productivity. When public goods are heterogeneous in their capacity to transfer funds, all voters agree that goods with high redistributive capacity should be decentralized.

Suggested Citation

  • John William Hatfield & Gerard Padró i Miquel, 2008. "A Political Economy Theory of Partial Decentralization," NBER Working Papers 14628, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14628
    Note: PE POL
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w14628.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Edwards, Jeremy & Keen, Michael, 1996. "Tax competition and Leviathan," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 113-134, January.
    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. Alberto Alesina & Enrico Spolaore, 1997. "On the Number and Size of Nations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1027-1056.
    4. Barro, Robert J & Gordon, David B, 1983. "A Positive Theory of Monetary Policy in a Natural Rate Model," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(4), pages 589-610, August.
    5. Timothy Besley & Torsten Persson, 2009. "The Origins of State Capacity: Property Rights, Taxation, and Politics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(4), pages 1218-1244, September.
    6. Paul Klein & Per Krusell & José-Víctor Ríos-Rull, 2004. "Time-Consistent Public Expenditures," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000000652, UCLA Department of Economics.
    7. Dixit, Avinash & Londregan, John, 1998. "Fiscal federalism and redistributive politics," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 153-180, May.
    8. Alberto Alesina & Dani Rodrik, 1994. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(2), pages 465-490.
    9. Bolton, Patrick & Roland, Gerard, 1996. "Distributional Conflicts, Factor Mobility, and Political Integration," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 99-104, May.
    10. Wildasin, David E., 1988. "Nash equilibria in models of fiscal competition," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 229-240, March.
    11. Romer, Thomas, 1975. "Individual welfare, majority voting, and the properties of a linear income tax," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 163-185, February.
    12. Cremer, Jacques & Palfrey, Thomas R., 1996. "In or out?: Centralization by majority vote," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 43-60, January.
    13. Mariano Tommasi & Federico Weinschelbaum, 2007. "Centralization vs. Decentralization: A Principal-Agent Analysis," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 9(2), pages 369-389, April.
    14. repec:cup:apsrev:v:93:y:1999:i:01:p:69-83_21 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Wilson, John Douglas, 1999. "Theories of Tax Competition," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 52(2), pages 269-304, June.
    16. Tabellini, Guido, 1990. "Domestic politics and the international coordination of fiscal policies," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(3-4), pages 245-265, May.
    17. Acemoglu,Daron & Robinson,James A., 2009. "Economic Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521671422, April.
    18. Rogoff, Kenneth, 1985. "Can international monetary policy cooperation be counterproductive?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(3-4), pages 199-217, May.
    19. Jean Tirole, 2006. "The Theory of Corporate Finance," Post-Print hal-00173191, HAL.
    20. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 1991. "Public Provision of Private Goods and the Redistribution of Income," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(4), pages 979-984, September.
    21. Zodrow, George R. & Mieszkowski, Peter, 1986. "Pigou, Tiebout, property taxation, and the underprovision of local public goods," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 356-370, May.
    22. Wilson, John D., 1986. "A theory of interregional tax competition," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 296-315, May.
    23. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1994. "Does centralization increase the size of government?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 38(3-4), pages 765-773, April.
    24. Hatfield, John, 2006. "Federalism, Taxation, and Economic Growth," Research Papers 1929, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
    25. Martin Bodenstein & Heinrich Ursprung, 2005. "Political yardstick competition, economic integration, and constitutional choice in a federation:," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 124(3), pages 329-352, September.
    26. Stiglitz, Joseph E & Weiss, Andrew, 1981. "Credit Rationing in Markets with Imperfect Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 393-410, June.
    27. Wallace E. Oates, 1999. "An Essay on Fiscal Federalism," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(3), pages 1120-1149, September.
    28. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 2003. "Centralized versus decentralized provision of local public goods: a political economy approach," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(12), pages 2611-2637, December.
    29. Ghatak, Maitreesh & Morelli, Massimo & Sjostrom, Tomas, 2007. "Entrepreneurial talent, occupational choice, and trickle up policies," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 137(1), pages 27-48, November.
    30. Roberts, Kevin W. S., 1977. "Voting over income tax schedules," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 329-340, December.
    31. Jacques Cremer & Thomas R. Palfrey, 2000. "Federal Mandates by Popular Demand," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(5), pages 905-927, October.
    32. Meltzer, Allan H & Richard, Scott F, 1981. "A Rational Theory of the Size of Government," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 914-927, October.
    33. Patrick J. Kehoe, 1989. "Policy Cooperation Among Benevolent Governments May Be Undesirable," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 56(2), pages 289-296.
    34. Robert P. Inman & Daniel L. Rubinfeld, 1997. "Rethinking Federalism," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(4), pages 43-64, Fall.
    35. Fischer, Stanley, 1980. "Dynamic inconsistency, cooperation and the benevolent dissembling government," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 93-107, May.
    36. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1996. "Federal Fiscal Constitutions: Risk Sharing and Redistribution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(5), pages 979-1009, October.
    37. Seabright, Paul, 1996. "Accountability and decentralisation in government: An incomplete contracts model," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 61-89, January.
    38. Wilson, John Douglas, 1999. "Theories of Tax Competition," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 52(n. 2), pages 269-304, June.
    39. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1977. "Rules Rather Than Discretion: The Inconsistency of Optimal Plans," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(3), pages 473-491, June.
    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. Janeba, Eckhard & Wilson, John Douglas, 2011. "Optimal fiscal federalism in the presence of tax competition," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(11), pages 1302-1311.
    2. James Alm & Robert D. Buschman & David L. Sjoquist, 0. "Citizen "Trust" as an Explanation of State Education Funding to Local School Districts," Publius: The Journal of Federalism, Oxford University Press, vol. 41(4), pages 636-661.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • H7 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations
    • H77 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Intergovernmental Relations; Federalism

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    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:nbr:nberwo:14628. 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: http://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.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 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.

    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.