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Does Fiscal Decentralization Constrain Leviathan? Evidence from Local Property Tax Competition

  • George R. Crowley

    (Department of Economics, West Virginia University)

  • Russell S. Sobel

    (Department of Economics, West Virginia University)

This paper reexamines whether fiscal decentralization constrains Leviathan government. Using panel data for Pennsylvania, we compare actual property tax rates to the Leviathan revenue-maximizing rates for municipalities, school districts, and counties. Using spatial econometric methods we also estimate the degree of spatial dependence at the three levels of local government. We find that fiscal decentralization results in stronger intergovernmental competition and lower tax rates. We also find evidence of collusion among school districts that exhibit high interdependence but also high tax rates. This calls into question the current literature's blind use of spatial dependence as a measure of intergovernmental competition.

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File URL: http://www.be.wvu.edu/phd_economics/pdf/10-16.pdf
File Function: First version, 2010
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Paper provided by Department of Economics, West Virginia University in its series Working Papers with number 10-16.

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Length: 45 pages
Date of creation: 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wvu:wpaper:10-16
Contact details of provider: Postal: P.O. Box 6025, Morgantown, WV 26506-6025
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Web page: http://www.be.wvu.edu/phd_economics/
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  1. P.J. Grossman, 1988. "Fiscal Decentralization and Government Size: An extension," Economics Discussion / Working Papers 88-16, The University of Western Australia, Department of Economics.
  2. Oates, Wallace E. & Schwab, Robert M., 1988. "Economic competition among jurisdictions: efficiency enhancing or distortion inducing?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 333-354, April.
  3. Mintz, J. & Tulkens, H., 1984. "Commodity tax competition between member states of a federation: equilibrium and efficiency," CORE Discussion Papers 1984027, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  4. 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.
  5. J. Barkley Rosser, 2009. "Introduction," Chapters, in: Handbook of Research on Complexity, chapter 1 Edward Elgar.
  6. Papke, Leslie E., 1991. "Interstate business tax differentials and new firm location : Evidence from panel data," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 47-68, June.
  7. John Anderson & Hendrik van den Berg, 1998. "Fiscal Decentralization and Government Size: An International Test for Leviathan Accounting for Unmeasured Economic Activity," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 5(2), pages 171-186, May.
  8. 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.
  9. Garrett, Thomas A, 2001. " The Leviathan Lottery? Testing the Revenue Maximization Objective of State Lotteries as Evidence for Leviathan," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 109(1-2), pages 101-17, October.
  10. Masayoshi Hayashi & Robin Boadway, 2001. "An empirical analysis of intergovernmental tax interaction: the case of business income taxes in Canada," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 34(2), pages 481-503, May.
  11. Dye, Richard F. & McGuire, Therese J., 1997. "The effect of property tax limitation measures on local government fiscal behavior," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(3), pages 469-487, December.
  12. G. Gulsun Arikan, 2004. "Fiscal Decentralization: A Remedy for Corruption?," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 11(2), pages 175-195, 03.
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