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Fiscal policy adjustments to budget shocks: Evidence from German municipalities

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  • Christofzik, Désirée I.
  • Schneider, Benny

Abstract

We study the fiscal policy reactions of municipalities in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia to an unanticipated spending shock. The implementation of a horizontal transfer system led to additional contributions for selected municipalities. Using the quasi-random assignment, we examine whether these contributing municipalities adjust their tax setting behavior, respond by adapting expenditures, or incur debt in the short run. We find a sizable increase of net borrowing. This increase is even higher than the expansion of spending. Municipalities additionally refrain from increasing tax rates. The results point to delayed fiscal adjustments. We conclude that the design and the predictability of transfer systems have significant implications on the behavior of municipalities within decentralized systems.

Suggested Citation

  • Christofzik, Désirée I. & Schneider, Benny, 2019. "Fiscal policy adjustments to budget shocks: Evidence from German municipalities," Working Papers 10/2019, German Council of Economic Experts / Sachverständigenrat zur Begutachtung der gesamtwirtschaftlichen Entwicklung.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:svrwwp:102019
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    local public finance; local taxation; public debt; fiscal shocks;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H71 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • H72 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Budget and Expenditures
    • H77 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Intergovernmental Relations; Federalism
    • R50 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Regional Government Analysis - - - General

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