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Local government expenditure and council size: Quasi-experimental evidence from Japan

  • Hirota, Haruaki
  • Yunoue, Hideo
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    In order to evaluate a fiscal common-pool problem, this paper focuses on the relationship between local government council size and its expenditure. Generally, local councilors internalize the benefit of public projects targeted at their political jurisdictions, but underestimate and prefer to externalize the cost of public projects due to the national subsidy system. When council sizes become larger, their expenditure might be larger because of the selfish behavior of local council members. This paper estimates the positive effect of local council size on local government expenditure using a dataset of 13,989 municipalities in Japan over a period of 6 years. In Japan, local council size is a deterministic and discontinuous function of municipal population size under legal rules. We pay attention to this exogenous discontinuity and apply a regression discontinuity design to consider an endogeneity bias. The results show that the larger the size of the local council the larger the size of expenditure they undertake. In particular, we find that growing small municipalities tend to increase their expenditures, so that for example, 1% increases in local council size lead to about 1.2% increases of expenditures by small municipalities. Our results show that the fiscal common-pool problem is produced in small municipalities.

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    File URL: http://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/42799/1/MPRA_paper_42799.pdf
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    Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 42799.

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    Date of creation: 2012
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    Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:42799
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    1. David S. Lee & Thomas Lemieux, 2009. "Regression Discontinuity Designs In Economics," Working Papers 1118, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    2. Persson, T. & Tabellini, G., 1998. "The Size and Scope of Government: Comparative Politics with Rational Politicians," Papers 658, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
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    4. Schaltegger, Christoph A. & Feld, Lars P., 2009. "Do large cabinets favor large governments? Evidence on the fiscal commons problem for Swiss Cantons," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(1-2), pages 35-47, February.
    5. Imbens, Guido W. & Lemieux, Thomas, 2008. "Regression discontinuity designs: A guide to practice," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 615-635, February.
    6. Lee, Myoung-jae, 2005. "Micro-Econometrics for Policy, Program and Treatment Effects," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199267699, March.
    7. Bradbury, John Charles & Crain, W. Mark, 2001. "Legislative organization and government spending: cross-country evidence," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(3), pages 309-325, December.
    8. 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.
    9. Pettersson-Lidbom, Per, 2012. "Does the size of the legislature affect the size of government? Evidence from two natural experiments," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(3), pages 269-278.
    10. Reza Baqir, 2002. "Districting and Government Overspending," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(6), pages 1318-1354, December.
    11. Bradbury, John Charles & Stephenson, E Frank, 2003. " Local Government Structure and Public Expenditures," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 115(1-2), pages 185-98, April.
    12. Peter Egger & Marko Koethenbuerger, 2010. "Government Spending and Legislative Organization: Quasi-experimental Evidence from Germany," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(4), pages 200-212, October.
    13. Gilligan, Thomas W & Matsusaka, John G, 1995. "Deviations from Constituent Interests: The Role of Legislative Structure and Political Parties in the States," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 33(3), pages 383-401, July.
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