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Fiscal Decentralisation and Regional Disparities


  • David Bartolini


  • Sibylle Stossberg

    (Federal Ministry of Finance)

  • Hansjörg Blöchliger



Fiscal decentralisation can lead to a more efficient provision of local public goods and services and promote a better match between policies and citizens’ preferences. At the same time, however, there are concerns about whether all regions will gain from more autonomy. Decentralisation may not lift all boats, with “poor” regions losing competitiveness with respect to better endowed ones, thus increasing regional disparities. The present work investigates the relationship between fiscal decentralisation and regional inequality within countries. Particular attention is paid to the different channels through which decentralisation can affect disparities: taxing powers, spending autonomy and the vertical fiscal imbalance. The empirical analysis, which is conducted on a sample of 30 OECD countries for the period 1995-2011, suggests that a balanced fiscal structure, where local spending is mainly financed by local taxation, reduces regional disparities, by providing an incentive to better use local resources and implement policies that favour economic development. Décentralisation budgétaire et disparités régionales Si la décentralisation budgétaire peut permettre d’améliorer l’efficience de la fourniture des biens et services publics locaux et promouvoir une meilleure adéquation entre les politiques publiques et les préférences des citoyens, la question de savoir si toutes les régions peuvent tirer parti d’une plus grande autonomie est source de préoccupation. Il est possible que la décentralisation ne profite pas à toutes les régions, et qu’elle se traduise, pour les régions « pauvres » par une perte de compétitivité par rapport à d’autres mieux dotées, exacerbant ainsi les disparités régionales. Les travaux en cours consistent en une analyse du lien entre la décentralisation budgétaire et les inégalités régionales au sein des pays. Une attention particulière y est accordée aux différents vecteurs par lesquels la décentralisation peut influer sur les disparités : compétences en matière fiscale, autonomie au niveau des dépenses et déséquilibre budgétaire vertical. Cette analyse empirique menée à partir d’un échantillon de 30 pays de l’OCDE sur la période 1995-2011, tend à démontrer qu’une structure budgétaire équilibrée, dans laquelle les dépenses locales sont financées essentiellement par la fiscalité locale, a pour effet de réduire les disparités régionales, car elle incite à une meilleure utilisation des ressources locales et à la mise en oeuvre de politiques qui favorisent le développement économique.

Suggested Citation

  • David Bartolini & Sibylle Stossberg & Hansjörg Blöchliger, 2016. "Fiscal Decentralisation and Regional Disparities," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 1330, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:ecoaaa:1330-en
    DOI: 10.1787/5jlpq7v3j237-en

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    Cited by:

    1. Stossberg Sibylle & Blöchliger Hansjörg, 2017. "Fiscal Decentralisation and Income Inequality: Empirical Evidence from OECD Countries," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 237(3), pages 225-273, June.
    2. Kıvılcım Özge KARA, 2019. "Discussions on the Chance of Success and Efficiency of Fiscal Decentralisation," Sosyoekonomi Journal, Sosyoekonomi Society, issue 27(40).

    More about this item


    fiscal decentralisation; panel data; regional inequality;

    JEL classification:

    • H71 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • H77 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Intergovernmental Relations; Federalism
    • R11 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Regional Economic Activity: Growth, Development, Environmental Issues, and Changes

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