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Why Europe Should Love Tax Competition - and the U.S. Even More So

  • Eckhard Janeba
  • Guttorm Schjelderup

Is global competition for mobile capital harmful (less public goods) or beneficial (less government waste)? This paper combines both aspects within a generalized version of the comparative public finance model (Persson, Roland and Tabellini, 2000) by introducing multiple countries and endogenous tax bases. We consider the role of political institutions and compare parliamentary democracies (Europe) and presidential-congressional systems (USA) to show that increasing tax competition is likely to improve voter welfare, even if public good supply decreases because rents to politicians also fall. The conditions for voter welfare to improve are less stringent under the presidential-congressional system than under parliamentary democracies. Increasing tax competition lowers voter welfare if the only benefit to politicians is to divert resources from the government budget and the future is valued highly.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 9334.

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Date of creation: Nov 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9334
Note: PE
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  1. John Douglas Wilson & Roger H. Gordon, 2003. "Expenditure Competition," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 5(2), pages 399-417, 04.
  2. Persson, Torsten & Roland, Gérard & Tabellini, Guido, 1997. "Comparative Politics and Public Finance," CEPR Discussion Papers 1737, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1999. "Political economics and macroeconomic policy," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 22, pages 1397-1482 Elsevier.
  4. Grossman, G.M. & Helpman, E., 1992. "Protection for Sale," Papers 162, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Public and International Affairs.
  5. Lorz, Oliver, 1998. "Capital mobility, tax competition, and lobbying for redistributive capital taxation," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 265-279, May.
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  7. Rodrik, Dani, 1996. "Why do More Open Economies Have Bigger Governments?," CEPR Discussion Papers 1388, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Jeremy Edwards & Michael Keen, 1994. "Tax competition and Leviathon," IFS Working Papers W94/07, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  9. Wilson, John Douglas, 1999. "Theories of Tax Competition," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 52(n. 2), pages 269-304, June.
  10. 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.
  11. Besley, Timothy J. & Smart, Michael, 2002. "Does Tax Competition Raise Voter Welfare?," CEPR Discussion Papers 3131, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  12. Wilson, John D., 1986. "A theory of interregional tax competition," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 296-315, May.
  13. Timothy Besley & Anne Case, 1992. "Incumbent Behavior: Vote Seeking, Tax Setting and Yardstick Competition," NBER Working Papers 4041, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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