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Local Governments in the Wake of Demographic Change: Efficiency and Economies of Scale in German Municipalities

  • Geys, Benny
  • Heinemann, Friedrich
  • Kalb, Alexander

German municipalities are expected to suffer from (often significant) population losses in the upcoming decades. We assess these local governments? vulnerability to the fiscal consequences of this demographic decline through two means (using a sample of 1021 municipalities in the state of Baden-Württemberg). First, we consider local government cost efficiency. This indicates that there is a substantial divergence in efficiency despite a homogeneous institutional setting, leaving at least some – mainly smaller – municipalities vulnerable to adverse demographic/financial shocks. Secondly, we estimate the elasticity of local government cost functions to population size. We find that costs rise (fall) underproportionally with population size for small municipalities, whereas this is less the case for larger municipalities. This implies that especially small municipalities are vulnerable to increasing cost pressures under declining population. The overall implication is that large German municipalities (over 10.000 inhabitants) will more easily be able to cope with the expected population decline than smaller ones, supporting a case for boundary reviews or more extensive inter-communal cooperation.

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Paper provided by ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research in its series ZEW Discussion Papers with number 07-036.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:zewdip:5695
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  1. Helmut Seitz & Dirk Freigang & Sören Högel & Gerhard Kempkes, 2007. "Die Auswirkungen der demographischen Veränderungen auf die Budgetstrukturen der öffentlichen Haushalte," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 8(2), pages 147-164, 03.
  2. Lars-Erik Borge & Torberg Falch & Per Tovmo, 2008. "Public sector efficiency: the roles of political and budgetary institutions, fiscal capacity, and democratic participation," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 136(3), pages 475-495, September.
  3. Paul W. Bauer, 1987. "A technique for estimating a cost system that allows for inefficiency," Working Paper 8704, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  4. Geys, Benny, 2006. "Looking across borders: A test of spatial policy interdependence using local government efficiency ratings," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(3), pages 443-462, November.
  5. Emili Tortosa Ausina & Diego Prior & María Teresa Balaguer-Coll, 2004. "On The Determinants Of Local Government Performance: A Two-Stage Nonparametric Approach," Working Papers. Serie EC 2004-04, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
  6. David E. Bloom & David Canning, 2004. "Global Demographic Change: Dimensions and Economic Significance," NBER Working Papers 10817, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Geys, Benny & Moesen, Wim, 2008. "Measuring local government technical (in)efficiency: An application and comparison of FDH, DEA and econometric approaches," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Market Processes and Governance SP II 2008-21, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
  8. Tim Callen & Warwick J. McKibbin & Nicoletta Batini, 2006. "The Global Impact of Demographic Change," IMF Working Papers 06/9, International Monetary Fund.
  9. Nigel Pain, 1996. "Modelling Structural Change In The UK Housing Market: A Comparison Of Alternative House Price Models," NIESR Discussion Papers 239, National Institute of Economic and Social Research.
  10. Christensen, Laurits R & Jorgenson, Dale W & Lau, Lawrence J, 1973. "Transcendental Logarithmic Production Frontiers," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 55(1), pages 28-45, February.
  11. Geys, Benny & Moesen, Wim, 2008. "Exploring sources of local government technical inefficiency: evidence from Flemish municipalities
    [Ursachenforschung zur technischen Ineffizienz kommunaler Verwaltungen: Evidenz von flämischen Gem
    ," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Market Processes and Governance SP II 2008-18, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
  12. DEPRINS, Dominique & SIMAR, Léopold & TULKENS, Henry, . "Measuring labor-efficiency in post offices," CORE Discussion Papers RP -571, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  13. Battese, G E & Coelli, T J, 1995. "A Model for Technical Inefficiency Effects in a Stochastic Frontier Production Function for Panel Data," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 20(2), pages 325-32.
  14. Maria Sousa & Borko Stošić, 2005. "Technical Efficiency of the Brazilian Municipalities: Correcting Nonparametric Frontier Measurements for Outliers," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 24(2), pages 157-181, October.
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