Re-designing Equalization Transfers: An Application to South Africa's Provincial Equitable Share
In this paper we examine the design of transfer systems, focusing on the Provincial Equitable Share (PES) in the Republic of South Africa. Provinces in South Africa have been assigned a wide range of responsibilities. Because provinces are almost completely reliant on transfers from the central government, the design of the PES is of critical importance, especially in its ability to achieve the goal of "equalization" across provinces. Our specific conclusion is that the PES largely fails in its efforts to equalize across provinces. Our more general conclusion that follows from this is that the PES attempts to achieve too many conflicting goals, and so it necessarily fails to achieve all goals equally or well, especially in its ability to equalize. We conclude with suggestions for ways to reform the PES to better achieve the goal of equalization, lesson that also apply to other countries.
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