IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Laws for fiscal responsibility for subnational discipline : international experience

  • Liu, Lili
  • Webb, Steven B.
Registered author(s):

    Fiscal responsibility laws are institutions with which multiple governments in the same economy -- national and subnational --can commit to help avoid irresponsible fiscal behavior that could have short-term advantages to one of them but that would be collectively damaging. Coordination failures with subnational governments in the 1990s contributed to macroeconomic instability and led several countries to adopt fiscal responsibility laws as part of the remedy. The paper analyzes the characteristics and effects of fiscal responsibility laws in seven countries -- Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, India, and Peru. Fiscal responsibility laws are designed to address the short time horizons of policymakers, free riders among government units, and principal agent problems between the national and subnational governments. The paper describes how the laws differ in the specificity of quantitative targets, the strength of sanctions, the methods for increasing transparency, and the level of government passing the law. Evidence shows that fiscal responsibility laws can help coordinate and sustain commitments to fiscal prudence, but they are not a substitute for commitment and should not be viewed as ends in themselves. They can make a positive contribution by adding to the collection of other measures to shore up a coalition of states with the central government in support of fiscal prudence. Policymakers contemplating fiscal responsibility laws may benefit from the systematic review of international practice. One common trait of successful fiscal responsibility laws for subnational governments is the commitment of the central government to its own fiscal prudence, which is usually reinforced by the application of the law at the national as well as the subnational level.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 5587.

    in new window

    Date of creation: 01 Mar 2011
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:5587
    Contact details of provider: Postal: 1818 H Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20433
    Phone: (202) 477-1234
    Web page:

    More information through EDIRC

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

    as in new window
    1. Miguel Braun & Mariano Tommasi, 2004. "Fiscal Rules for Subnational Governments. Some organizing principles and Latin American experiences," Public Economics 0410004, EconWPA.
    2. John Joseph Wallis & Richard E. Sylla & Arthur Grinath III, 2004. "Sovereign Debt and Repudiation: The Emerging-Market Debt Crisis in the U.S. States, 1839-1843," NBER Working Papers 10753, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:5587. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Roula I. Yazigi)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.