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

Author

Listed:
  • George R. Crowley

    (Department of Economics, West Virginia University)

  • Russell S. Sobel

    (Department of Economics, West Virginia University)

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • George R. Crowley & Russell S. Sobel, 2010. "Does Fiscal Decentralization Constrain Leviathan? Evidence from Local Property Tax Competition," Working Papers 10-16, Department of Economics, West Virginia University.
  • Handle: RePEc:wvu:wpaper:10-16
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    File URL: http://be.wvu.edu/phd_economics/pdf/10-16.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. G. Gulsun Arikan, 2004. "Fiscal Decentralization: A Remedy for Corruption?," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 11(2), pages 175-195, March.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. 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 101-117, October.
    5. Mintz, Jack & Tulkens, Henry, 1986. "Commodity tax competition between member states of a federation: equilibrium and efficiency," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 133-172, March.
    6. Philip Grossman, 1989. "Fiscal decentralization and government size: An extension," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 62(1), pages 63-69, July.
    7. 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.
    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. 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.
    10. 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.
    11. 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;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 5(2), pages 171-186, May.
    12. J. Barkley Rosser, 2009. "Introduction," Chapters,in: Handbook of Research on Complexity, chapter 1 Edward Elgar Publishing.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Fiscal decentralization; Leviathan; Tax competition;

    JEL classification:

    • H77 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Intergovernmental Relations; Federalism
    • H73 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Interjurisdictional Differentials and Their Effects

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