Tax competition in the eurozone: Capital mobility, agglomeration, and the small country disadvantage
The increasing economic integration among OECD countries since the late 1970s has attracted much attention in tax policy research. Although several studies have tested whether capital mobility induces a race to the bottom in capital taxation, the two approaches - competition and compensation theory - provide diametrically opposed answers to this question. One theory predicts a reduction in taxation, the other a stagnation or increase in taxation. This paper examines the question once again. However, instead of aggregating all OECD countries into one sample, it compares EMU countries - with nearly perfect capital mobility - to non-EMU countries in a difference-in- differences regression. Controlling for market size, I found that the EMU led to a divergence in taxation for small and large countries. Although the reduction in small countries could be explained by competition theory, the increase in large countries is not in line with the conventional theories. I argue that agglomeration forces give large countries an advantage in terms of attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) because of beneficial supply and demand chains. Small countries are disadvantaged in terms of capital attraction, which they counter by reducing capital taxation.
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