Federations, Constitutions, and Political Bargaining
The paper studies a world where a region provides essential inputs for the successful implementation of a local public policy project with spill-overs, and where bargaining between different levels of government may ensure efficient decision making ex post. We ask whether the authority over the public policy measure should rest with the local government or be centralized, allowing financial relationships within the federation to be designed optimally. We show that centralization is always dominant when governments are benevolent, and that both governance structures are otherwise inefficient as long as political bargaining is disregarded. With bargaining, however, the first best can often be achieved under decentralization, but not under centralization. At the root of the result is the alignment of decision making over both essential inputs and final project size under decentralization.
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