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Decentralization and Local Governments' Performance: How Does Fiscal Autonomy Affect Spending Efficiency?

Author

Listed:
  • Lorenzo Boetti

    () (Catholic University of Milan)

  • Massimiliano Piacenza

    () (Department of Economics and Public Finance "G. Prato", University of Torino)

  • Gilberto Turati

    () (Department of Economics and Public Finance "G. Prato", University of Torino)

Abstract

In Italy, as in other countries around the world, recent reforms share the goal of increasing the fiscal autonomy of lower tiers of governments, from Regions to Municipalities, in order to align spending with funding responsibilities and increase the efficiency in the provision of essential public services. The purpose of this paper is to assess spending efficiency of local governments and to investigate the effects of tax decentralization, focusing on the role played by incumbent politicians' accountability. The analysis relies on a sample of Italian municipalities and exploits both parametric (SFA) and nonparametric (DEA) techniques to study spending inefficiency and its main determinants. Consistently with modern fiscal federalism theories, our results show that more fiscally autonomous municipalities exhibit less inefficient behaviours. We also find that the shorter is the distance from new elections, the higher is excess spending, thus giving further support to the traditional 'electoral budget cycle' agument. Other political features of governing coalition, such as age and gender of the mayor, do not seem to exert any significant impact on inefficiency levels.

Suggested Citation

  • Lorenzo Boetti & Massimiliano Piacenza & Gilberto Turati, 2010. "Decentralization and Local Governments' Performance: How Does Fiscal Autonomy Affect Spending Efficiency?," Working papers 11, Former Department of Economics and Public Finance "G. Prato", University of Torino.
  • Handle: RePEc:tur:wpaper:11
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    File URL: http://www.biblioecon.unito.it/biblioservizi/RePEc/tur/wpaper/n11.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Akai, Nobuo & Sakata, Masayo, 2002. "Fiscal decentralization contributes to economic growth: evidence from state-level cross-section data for the United States," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(1), pages 93-108, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Laura Carosi & Giovanna D’Inverno & Letizia Ravagli, 2014. "Global public spending efficiency in Tuscan municipalities," Discussion Papers 2014/175, Dipartimento di Economia e Management (DEM), University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy.
    2. Francese, Maura & Piacenza, Massimiliano & Romanelli, Marzia & Turati, Gilberto, 2014. "Understanding inappropriateness in health spending: The role of regional policies and institutions in caesarean deliveries," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 262-277.
    3. Agnese Sacchi & Simone Salotti, 2017. "The influence of decentralized taxes and intergovernmental grants on local spending volatility," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 51(4), pages 507-522, April.
    4. Isabel Narbón-Perpiñá & Mª Teresa Balaguer-Coll & Marko Petrovic & Emili Tortosa-Ausina, 2017. "Which estimator to measure local governments’ cost efficiency? An application to Spanish municipalities," Working Papers 2017/06, Economics Department, Universitat Jaume I, Castellón (Spain).
    5. repec:eur:ejmsjr:268 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Sergio Beraldo & Massimiliano Piacenza & Gilberto Turati, 2012. "Fiscal Decentralization In Weak Institutional Environments," Post-Print halshs-00706970, HAL.
    7. Giuseppe Di Liddo & Cosimo Magazzino & Francesco Porcelli, 2015. "Decentralization, Growth And Optimal Government Size In The Italian Regional Framework," Working Papers 0115, CREI Università degli Studi Roma Tre, revised 2015.
    8. Bracalente, Bruno & Polinori, Paolo, 2010. "L’efficienza tecnico-economica dei servizi pubblici locali: i casi delle farmacie comunali e dei servizi di igiene urbana
      [Technical And Economic Efficiency Of Local Public Services: The Cases Of T
      ," MPRA Paper 34455, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Torrisi, Gianpiero & Pike, Andy & Tomaney, John & Tselios, Vassilis, 2011. "Defining and measuring decentralisation: a critical review," MPRA Paper 51441, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Paolo Liberati & Agnese Sacchi, 2013. "Tax decentralization and local government size," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 157(1), pages 183-205, October.
    11. repec:eee:soceps:v:61:y:2018:i:c:p:102-113 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Agnese Sacchi & Simone Salotti, 2016. "A Comprehensive Analysis of Expenditure Decentralization and of the Composition of Local Public Spending," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 50(1), pages 93-109, January.
    13. repec:eee:regeco:v:64:y:2017:i:c:p:1-11 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. David Cantarero & Patricio Perez, 2012. "Decentralization and regional government size in Spain," Portuguese Economic Journal, Springer;Instituto Superior de Economia e Gestao, vol. 11(3), pages 211-237, December.
    15. Sacchi, Agnese & Salotti, Simone, 2014. "The asymmetric nature of fiscal decentralization: theory and practice," MPRA Paper 54506, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Local governments; Fiscal autonomy; Political accountability; Spending efficiency; Parametric and nonparametric frontiers;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation
    • H71 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • H72 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Budget and Expenditures
    • H77 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Intergovernmental Relations; Federalism
    • R51 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Regional Government Analysis - - - Finance in Urban and Rural Economies

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