IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Getting the Most Out of Public Sector Decentralisation in Spain


  • Isabelle Joumard
  • Claude Giorno


In about two decades, Spain was transformed from one of the most centralised countries to one of the most decentralised. Spending functions were devolved rapidly. The regions have exercised their discretionary powers quite extensively and innovative policies have been implemented. But devolution was also accompanied by a hike in public employment and pressures on public spending, reflecting duplication in resources and poor co-ordination across and between government levels. The recent devolution of taxing powers could raise the accountability of the regions and, thus, cost-consciousness, although their effective use has been limited. Securing fiscal discipline would require better information on sub-national governments’ policies and outcomes so as to allow citizens to press for improved performance. The financing system of the regions also needs to be reformed to ensure sustainability in the face of changing demographics, while the fiscal rules need to be upgraded to avoid recourse to off-budget operations. This Working Paper relates to the 2005 OECD Economic Survey of Spain ( Optimiser l'impact de la décentralisation en Espagne En l’espace de deux décennies, l’Espagne, qui était l’un des pays les plus centralisés, est devenue l’un des plus décentralisés. Les compétences en matière de dépenses ont été transférées rapidement. Les régions ont souvent été innovantes, adaptant leur offre de services publiques aux préférences locales. Toutefois, ces transferts se sont aussi accompagnés d’une hausse de l’emploi public et de pressions sur les dépenses publiques, ce qui reflète une duplication des ressources et un manque de coordination à chaque niveau d’administration et entre les différents niveaux. Le récent transfert de pouvoirs fiscaux aux régions pourrait renforcer leur responsabilité, et donc leur souci de maîtriser les coûts, bien qu’elles n’aient que peu utilisé ces pouvoirs. Assurer la discipline budgétaire nécessiterait une information plus complète sur les politiques et les résultats des administrations territoriales afin que les citoyens puissent réclamer une amélioration des performances. Il faut aussi réformer le système de financement des régions pour en assurer la viabilité face aux changements démographiques, tandis que les règles budgétaires devraient être ajustées de façon à éviter le recours aux opérations extrabudgétaires. Ce Document de travail se rapporte à l'Etude économique de l'OCDE de l’Espagne, 2005 (

Suggested Citation

  • Isabelle Joumard & Claude Giorno, 2005. "Getting the Most Out of Public Sector Decentralisation in Spain," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 436, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:ecoaaa:436-en

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Stephen Murchison & Janine Robbins, "undated". "Fiscal Policy and the Business Cycle: A New Approach to Identifying the Interaction," Working Papers-Department of Finance Canada 2003-06, Department of Finance Canada.
    2. Paul van den Noord, 2000. "The Size and Role of Automatic Fiscal Stabilizers in the 1990s and Beyond," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 230, OECD Publishing.
    3. Gábor P. Kiss & Gábor Vadas, 2004. "Mind the Gap – Watch the Ways of Cyclical Adjustment of the Budget Balance," MNB Working Papers 2004/7, Magyar Nemzeti Bank (Central Bank of Hungary).
    4. Vincent Koen & Paul van den Noord, 2005. "Fiscal Gimmickry in Europe: One-Off Measures and Creative Accounting," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 417, OECD Publishing.
    5. Vladimir Bezdek & Kamil Dybczak & Ales Krejdl, 2003. "Czech Fiscal Policy: Introductory Analysis," Working Papers 2003/07, Czech National Bank, Research Department.
    6. Bouthevillain, C. & Van Den Dool, G. & Langenus, G. & Mohr, M. & Momigliano, S. & Tujula, M. & De Cos, P.H. & Cour-Thimann, Philippine, 2001. "Cyclically Adjusted Budget Balances: an Alternative Approach," Papers 77, Quebec a Montreal - Recherche en gestion.
    7. Gábor P. Kiss & Gábor Vadas, 2005. "Mind the Gap – International Comparison of Cyclical Adjustment of the Budget," MNB Working Papers 2005/04, Magyar Nemzeti Bank (Central Bank of Hungary).
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Izabela Karpowicz, 2012. "Narrowing Vertical Fiscal Imbalances in Four European Countries," IMF Working Papers 12/91, International Monetary Fund.
    2. Brieuc Monfort, 2015. "Can Increased Public Expenditure Efficiency Contribute to the Consolidation of Public Finances in Japan?," Working Papers halshs-01548620, HAL.
    3. Julio López Laborda & Carlos Monasterio Escudero, 2006. "Regional Decentralization in Spain: Vertical Imbalances and Revenue Assignments," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper0610, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
    4. Luca Gandullia, 2012. "The role of direct taxes in fiscal decentralization," DEP - series of economic working papers 6/2012, University of Genoa, Research Doctorate in Public Economics.
    5. Julio López Laborda & Jorge Martinez-Vazquez & Carlos Monasterio Escudero, 2006. "The Practice of Fiscal Federalism in Spain," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper0623, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.

    More about this item


    collectivités territoriales; discipline budgétaire; Espagne; fiscal discipline; fiscal federalism; fiscal rules; fédéralisme financier; intergovernmental grants; règles budgétaires; Spain; sub-national government; transferts intergouvernementaux;

    JEL classification:

    • H1 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • H4 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods
    • H5 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies
    • H7 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    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:oec:ecoaaa:436-en. 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: .

    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.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using 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.