On Fiscal Illusion and Ricardian Equivalence in Local Public Finance
We re-evaluate two forms of fiscal illusion in local public finance: debt illusion and renter illusion. The Ricardian Equivalence Theorem for local governments suggests the form of finance of a public program (tax or debt finance) has no effects on substantive outcomes. For the local case, this results from the capitalization of local fiscal differentials into property values. We show that this version of the model is quite restrictive. In particular, in the U.S, context, where state and local interest is exempt from federal taxation, rational behavior may be inconsistent with Ricardian equivalence if local governments can borrow on more favorable terms than individuals. We also suggest a new test for renter illusion (or the renter effect). In particular, whether or not renters are more likely to support public investments in general, the renter effect suggests that renters are more likely to support them when financed with property taxes than with sales taxes. Using data from hundreds of open space referenda in the U.S. using a variety of finance mechanisms, we find evidence that households do prefer debt financing to tax financing, but find no evidence of the renter effect.
|Date of creation:||May 2012|
|Date of revision:|
|Publication status:||published as "On Fiscal Illusion in Local Public Finance: Re-examining Ricardian Equivalence and the Renter Effect," National Tax Journal 66(3), 2013, pp. 511-40 (with W.E. Oates).|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: |
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Akai, Nobuo, 1994. "Ricardian equivalence for local government bonds : Budget constraint approach," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 44(1-2), pages 191-195.
- Epple, Dennis & Romer, Thomas, 1991. "Mobility and Redistribution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(4), pages 828-58, August.
- Geoffrey Turnbull & Gyusuck Geon, 2006. "Local government internal structure, external constraints and the median voter," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 129(3), pages 487-506, December.
- Kotchen, Matthew J. & Powers, Shawn M., 2006.
"Explaining the appearance and success of voter referenda for open-space conservation,"
Journal of Environmental Economics and Management,
Elsevier, vol. 52(1), pages 373-390, July.
- Matthew J. Kotchen & Shawn M. Powers, 2004. "Explaining The Appearance and Success of Voter Referenda For Open-Space Conservation," Department of Economics Working Papers 2004-06, Department of Economics, Williams College.
- Barro, Robert J., 1974.
"Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?,"
3451399, Harvard University Department of Economics.
- Guido W. Imbens, 2003.
"Nonparametric Estimation of Average Treatment Effects under Exogeneity: A Review,"
NBER Technical Working Papers
0294, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Guido W. Imbens, 2004. "Nonparametric Estimation of Average Treatment Effects Under Exogeneity: A Review," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(1), pages 4-29, February.
- Dollery, Brian E & Worthington, Andrew C, 1996. " The Empirical Analysis of Fiscal Illusion," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 10(3), pages 261-97, September.
- Heckman, James J & Ichimura, Hidehiko & Todd, Petra E, 1997. "Matching as an Econometric Evaluation Estimator: Evidence from Evaluating a Job Training Programme," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(4), pages 605-54, October.
- Nelson, Erik & Uwasu, Michinori & Polasky, Stephen, 2007. "Voting on open space: What explains the appearance and support of municipal-level open space conservation referenda in the United States?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(3-4), pages 580-593, May.
- Kenneth Y. Chay & Michael Greenstone, 2005.
"Does Air Quality Matter? Evidence from the Housing Market,"
Journal of Political Economy,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(2), pages 376-424, April.
- Kenneth Y. Chay & Michael Greenstone, 1998. "Does Air Quality Matter? Evidence from the Housing Market," NBER Working Papers 6826, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Leeds, Michael A., 1985. "Property values and pension underfunding in the local public sector," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 34-46, July.
- Oded Palmon & Baron A. Smith, 1998. "New Evidence on Property Tax Capitalization," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(5), pages 1099-1128, October.
- Jorge Martinez- Vazquez, 1983. "Renters' Illusion or Savvy?," Public Finance Review, , vol. 11(2), pages 237-247, April.
- Turnbull, Geoffrey K., 1998. "The Overspending and Flypaper Effects of Fiscal Illusion: Theory and Empirical Evidence," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 1-26, July.
- John Joseph Wallis, 2000. "American Government Finance in the Long Run: 1790 to 1990," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(1), pages 61-82, Winter.
- Richard Wagner, 1976. "Revenue structure, fiscal illusion, and budgetary choice," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 25(1), pages 45-61, March.
- Oates, Wallace E., 2005. "Property taxation and local public spending: the renter effect," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(3), pages 419-431, May.
- Epple, Dennis & Spatt, Chester, 1986. "State restrictions on local debt : Their role in preventing default," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 199-221, March.
- Miller, Merton H, 1977. "Debt and Taxes," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 32(2), pages 261-75, May.
- Seater, John J, 1993. "Ricardian Equivalence," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 31(1), pages 142-90, March.
- Roberto Dellâ€™Anno & Paulo Mourao, 2012. "Fiscal Illusion around the World," Public Finance Review, , vol. 40(2), pages 270-299, March.
- Dubin, Jeffrey A & McFadden, Daniel L, 1984. "An Econometric Analysis of Residential Electric Appliance Holdings and Consumption," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(2), pages 345-62, March.
- Dennis Epple & Katherine Schipper, 1981. "Municipal pension funding: A theory and some evidence," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 37(1), pages 141-178, January.
- Inman, Robert P., 1982. "Public employee pensions and the local labor budget," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 49-71, October.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18040. 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: ()
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.