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Centralized or decentralized financing of local governments? Consequences for efficiency and inequality of service provision

  • Lars-Erik Borge


    (Department of Economics and Centre for Economic Research, Norwegian University of Science and Technology)

Compared with most countries the Norwegian system of financing local governments is highly centralized. Grants make up a substantial part of revenues and local taxes are highly regulated by the center. The development of the system was motivated by a desire to equalize service provision throughout the country. The purpose of this paper is to analyze possible consequences of more decentralized financing with local tax discretion. Contrary to the conventional wisdom the analysis indicates that decentralized financing is likely to give more equal provision of local public services. In addition, substantial efficiency gains can be obtained.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, Norwegian University of Science and Technology in its series Working Paper Series with number 7806.

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Length: 28 pages
Date of creation: 06 Dec 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nst:samfok:7806
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  8. Poterba, James M & Rueben, Kim S, 1995. "The Effect of Property-Tax Limits on Wages and Employment in the Local Public Sector," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(2), pages 384-89, May.
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  10. Borge, Lars-Erik, 2000. "Charging for public services: the case of utilities in Norwegian local governments," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 703-718, December.
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  13. 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.
  14. Hoxby, Caroline M., 1999. "The productivity of schools and other local public goods producers," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(1), pages 1-30, October.
  15. Silva, Fabio & Sonstelie, Jon, 1995. "Did Serrano Cause a Decline in School Spending," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 48(2), pages 199-215, June.
  16. Bergstrom, Pal & Dahlberg, Matz & Mork, Eva, 2004. "The effects of grants and wages on municipal labour demand," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 315-334, June.
  17. Borge, Lars-Erik & Rattso, Jorn, 1995. "Demographic shift, relative costs and the allocation of local public consumption in Norway," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(6), pages 705-726, December.
  18. McGuire, Therese J., 1999. "Proposition 13 and Its Offspring: For Good or for Evil?," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 52(n. 1), pages 129-38, March.
  19. Weingast, Barry R & Shepsle, Kenneth A & Johnsen, Christopher, 1981. "The Political Economy of Benefits and Costs: A Neoclassical Approach to Distributive Politics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(4), pages 642-64, August.
  20. Borge, Lars-Erik & Rattso, J.Jorn, 2004. "Income distribution and tax structure: Empirical test of the Meltzer-Richard hypothesis," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 48(4), pages 805-826, August.
  21. Loeb, Susanna, 2001. "Estimating the effects of school finance reform: a framework for a federalist system," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(2), pages 225-247, May.
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