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Fiscal decentralization policies and sub-national government debt in evolving federations

As part of a process of democratization, many countries spanning Europe, Latin Amertica, Africa, and Asia are reorganizing their governments by devolving fiscal responsibility and authority to newly empowered regional and local governments. Although decentralization in each country proceeds differently, a common element tends to be an initially heavy reliance on central government grants to fund regional spending. We develop a theoretical model of regional borrowing decisions in which the incentives for regional borrowing depend crucially on how the regions expect the federal system of finance to evolve. We examine the implications of the model using data on Spanish regions for the period 1984-1995 and find evidence that regions may be borrowing inefficiently in response to incentives imbedded in the Spanish system of fiscal decentralization.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra in its series Economics Working Papers with number 549.

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Date of creation: Jul 2001
Date of revision: May 2002
Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:549
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