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Are rules-based government programs shielded from special-interest politics? Evidence from revenue-sharing transfers in Brazil

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  • Stephan Litschig

Abstract

Manipulation of government finances for the benefit of narrowly defined groups is usually thought to be limited to the part of the budget over which politicians exercise discretion in the short run, such as earmarks. Analyzing a revenue-sharing program between the central and local governments in Brazil that uses an allocation formula based on local population estimates, I document two main results: first, that the population estimates entering the formula were manipulated and second, that this manipulation was political in nature. Consistent with swing-voter targeting by the right-wing central government, I find that municipalities with roughly equal right-wing and non-right-wing vote shares benefited relative to opposition or conservative core support municipalities. These findings suggest that the exclusive focus on discretionary transfers in the extant empirical literature on special-interest politics may understate the true scope of tactical redistribution that is going on under programmatic disguise.

Suggested Citation

  • Stephan Litschig, 2008. "Are rules-based government programs shielded from special-interest politics? Evidence from revenue-sharing transfers in Brazil," Economics Working Papers 1144, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised May 2012.
  • Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:1144
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    Cited by:

    1. Lucie Gadenne, 2017. "Tax Me, but Spend Wisely? Sources of Public Finance and Government Accountability," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 9(1), pages 274-314, January.
    2. Brice Fabre, 2017. "Political Colleagues Matter: The Impact of Multiple Office-Holding on Intergovernmental Grants," PSE Working Papers halshs-01596149, HAL.
    3. Castro, Marcelo Araújo & Mattos, Enlinson & Patriota, Fernanda, 2016. "Spatial spillovers and political coordination in public health provision," Textos para discussão 417, FGV/EESP - Escola de Economia de São Paulo, Getulio Vargas Foundation (Brazil).
    4. Neyapti, Bilin, 2013. "Fiscal decentralization, fiscal rules and fiscal discipline," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 121(3), pages 528-532.
    5. Thushyanthan Baskaran & Zohal Hessami, 2014. "Political alignment and intergovernmental transfers in parliamentary systems: Evidence from Germany," Working Paper Series of the Department of Economics, University of Konstanz 2014-17, Department of Economics, University of Konstanz.
    6. Paulo Arvate & Enlinson Mattos, Fabiana Rocha, 2015. "Intergovernmental transfers and public spending in Brazilian municipalities," Working Papers, Department of Economics 2015_03, University of São Paulo (FEA-USP).
    7. Muhammad Haseeb & Kate Vyborny, 2016. "Imposing institutions: Evidence from cash transfer reform in Pakistan," CSAE Working Paper Series 2016-36, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
    8. Jennes, Geert & Persyn, Damiaan, 2015. "The effect of political representation on the geographic distribution of income: Evidence using Belgian data," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 178-194.
    9. Dirk Foremny & Jordi Jofre-Monseny & Albert Solé-Ollé, 2015. "‘Hold that ghost’: using notches to identify manipulation of population-based grants," Working Papers 2015/39, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
    10. Giampaolo Garzarelli & Lyndal Keeton, 2016. "Policy Experimentation and Intergovernmental Grants in a Federal System," Working Papers 8/16, Sapienza University of Rome, DISS.
    11. Andrew C. Eggers & Ronny Freier & Veronica Grembi & Tommaso Nannicini, 2015. "Regression Discontinuity Designs Based on Population Thresholds: Pitfalls and Solutions," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1503, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    12. repec:kap:pubcho:v:171:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s11127-016-0398-4 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Eric ROUGIER & François COMBARNOUS & Yves-André FAURE, 2017. "The ‘local economy’ effect of social transfers: A municipality-level analysis of the local growth impact of the Bolsa Familia Programme in the Brazilian Nordeste," Cahiers du GREThA 2017-09, Groupe de Recherche en Economie Théorique et Appliquée.
    14. Thushyanthan Baskaran, 2013. "Do bailouts buy votes? Evidence from a panel of Hessian municipalities," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 14(3), pages 257-278, August.
    15. Kauder, Björn & Björn, Kauder & Niklas, Potrafke & Markus, Reischmann, 2016. "Do politicians gratify core supporters? Evidence from a discretionary grant program," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145509, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    16. Marta Curto‐Grau & Albert Solé‐Ollé & Pilar Sorribas‐Navarro, 2017. "Does electoral competition curb party favoritism?," Working Papers 2017/04, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
    17. Maaser, Nicola & Stratmann, Thomas, 2016. "Distributional consequences of political representation," European Economic Review, Elsevier, pages 187-211.
    18. Kauder, Björn & Potrafke, Niklas & Reischmann, Markus, 2016. "Do politicians reward core supporters? Evidence from a discretionary grant program," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 39-56.
    19. Marcelo Araújo Castro, 2016. "Using A Quasi-Experiment To Identify The Effects Of Education Spending On School Quality," Anais do XLIII Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 43rd Brazilian Economics Meeting] 221, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pósgraduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].
    20. Kristof De Witte & Benny Geys, 2015. "Strategic Housing Policy, Migration and Sorting around Population Thresholds," CESifo Working Paper Series 5639, CESifo Group Munich.
    21. repec:eee:pubeco:v:154:y:2017:i:c:p:49-66 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Bureaucracy; institutions; redistributive politics; electoral competition;

    JEL classification:

    • H77 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Intergovernmental Relations; Federalism
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D73 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Bureaucracy; Administrative Processes in Public Organizations; Corruption

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