IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Federalism as a Commitment to Preserving Market Incentives


  • Yingyi Qian
  • Barry R. Weingast


Fall, 1997 Journal of Economic Perspectives, Volume 11, Number 4, pp.83-92, Fall 1997 We advance a new perspective in the study of federalism. Our approach views federalism as a governance solution of the state to credibly preserving market incentives. Market incentives are preserved if the state is credibly prevented from compromising on future economic success and from bailing out future failures. The salient features of federalism — decentralization of information and authority and inter-jurisdiction competition — help provide credible commitment for these purposes. In addition, we discuss factors relevant for sustaining federalism.

Suggested Citation

  • Yingyi Qian & Barry R. Weingast, 1997. "Federalism as a Commitment to Preserving Market Incentives," Working Papers 97042, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:wop:stanec:97042

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Qian, Yingyi & Roland, Gerard, 1998. "Federalism and the Soft Budget Constraint," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(5), pages 1143-1162, December.
    2. Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John, 1987. "Bargaining and Influence Costs and the Organization of Economic Activity," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt32s7d4jv, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
    3. Aghion, Philippe & Tirole, Jean, 1997. "Formal and Real Authority in Organizations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(1), pages 1-29, February.
    4. M. Dewatripont & E. Maskin, 1995. "Credit and Efficiency in Centralized and Decentralized Economies," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 62(4), pages 541-555.
    5. Epple, Dennis & Zelenitz, Allan, 1981. "The Implications of Competition among Jurisdictions: Does Tiebout Need Politics?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(6), pages 1197-1217, December.
    6. Grossman, Sanford J & Hart, Oliver D, 1986. "The Costs and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(4), pages 691-719, August.
    7. Shleifer, Andrei, 1997. "Government in transition," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 41(3-5), pages 385-410, April.
    8. Holmstrom, Bengt R. & Tirole, Jean, 1989. "The theory of the firm," Handbook of Industrial Organization,in: R. Schmalensee & R. Willig (ed.), Handbook of Industrial Organization, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 2, pages 61-133 Elsevier.
    9. repec:cup:apsrev:v:91:y:1997:i:02:p:245-263_20 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. McKinnon, Ronald I., 1995. "Intergovernmental competition in Europe with and without a common currency," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 17(5), pages 463-478, October.
    11. Wildasin, David E., 1997. "Externalities and bailouts : hard and soft budget constraints in intergovernmental fiscal relations," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1843, The World Bank.
    12. repec:hrv:faseco:30725664 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Schmidt, Klaus M, 1996. "The Costs and Benefits of Privatization: An Incomplete Contracts Approach," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 12(1), pages 1-24, April.
    14. Charles M. Tiebout, 1956. "A Pure Theory of Local Expenditures," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 64, pages 416-416.
    15. Frye, Timothy & Shleifer, Andrei, 1997. "The Invisible Hand and the Grabbing Hand," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 354-358, May.
    16. Che, Jiahua & Qian, Yingyi, 1998. "Institutional Environment, Community Government, and Corporate Governance: Understanding China's Township-Village Enterprises," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 14(1), pages 1-23, April.
    17. Yingyi Qian & Barry R. Weingast, 1996. "China's transition to markets: market-preserving federalism, chinese style," Journal of Economic Policy Reform, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 1(2), pages 149-185.
    18. Courant, Paul N. & Rubinfeld, Daniel L., 1981. "On the welfare effects of tax limitation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 289-316, December.
    19. Robert H. Bates & Avner Greif & Margaret Levi & Jean-Laurent Rosenthal, 1998. "Analytic Narratives," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 6355.
    20. Laffont, Jean-Jacques & Tirole, Jean, 1988. "The Dynamics of Incentive Contracts," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(5), pages 1153-1175, September.
    21. Romano, Roberta, 1985. "Law as a Product: Some Pieces of the Incorporation Puzzle," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 1(2), pages 225-283, Fall.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • H77 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Intergovernmental Relations; Federalism


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wop:stanec:97042. 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: (Thomas Krichel). General contact details of provider: .

    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 CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.