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Fiscal federalism

About: Fiscal federalism is a(n) research topic. Over the lifetime, 3646 publication(s) have been published within this topic receiving 88420 citation(s).
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Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: NE of the most important recent developments in the area of "applied economic theory" has been the work of Musgrave and Samuelson in public finance theory.2 The two writers agree on what is probably the major point under investigation, namely, that no "market type" solution exists to determine the level of expenditures on public goods. Seemingly, we are faced with the problem of having a rather large portion of our national income allocated in a "non-optimal" way when compared with the private sector. This discussion will show that the Musgrave-Samuelson analysis, which is valid for federal expenditures, need not apply to local expenditures. The plan of the discussion is first to restate the assumptions made by Musgrave and Samuelson and the central problems with which they deal. After looking at a key difference between the federal versus local cases, I shall present a simple model. This model yields a solution for the level of expenditures for local public goods which reflects the preferences of the population more adequately than they can be reflected at the national level. The assumptions of the model will then be relaxed to see what implications are involved. Finally, policy considerations will be discussed.

11,481 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: vogue. Both in the industrialized and in the developing world, nations are turning to devolution to improve the per- formance of their public sectors. In the United States, the central government has turned back significant portions of federal authority to the states for a wide range of major programs, including wel- fare, Medicaid, legal services, housing, and job training. The hope is that state and local governments, being closer to the people, will be more responsive to the particular preferences of their con- stituencies and will be able to find new and better ways to provide these ser- vices. In the United Kingdom, both Scot- land and Wales have opted under the Blair government for their own regional parliaments. And in Italy the movement toward decentralization has gone so far as to encompass a serious proposal for the separation of the nation into two in- dependent countries. In the developing world, we likewise see widespread inter- est in fiscal decentralization with the ob- jective of breaking the grip of central planning that, in the view of many, has failed to bring these nations onto a path of self-sustaining growth. But the proper goal of restructuring the public sector cannot simply be de- centralization. The public sector in nearly all countries consists of several different levels. The basic issue is one of aligning responsibilities and fiscal in- struments with the proper levels of gov- ernment. As Alexis de Toqueville ob- served more than a centuty ago, "The federal system was created with the in- tention of combining the different ad- vantages which result from the magni- tude and the littleness of nations" (1980, v. I, p. 163). But to realize these "dif- ferent advantages," we need to under- stand which functions and instruments are best centralized and which are best placed in the sphere of decentralized levels of government. This is the sub- ject matter of fiscal federalism. As a subfield of public finance, fiscal feder- alism addresses the vertical structure of the public sector. It explores, both in normative and positive terms, the roles of the different levels of government and the ways in which they relate to one another through such instruments as intergovernmental grants.2

2,862 citations

01 Jan 1987-

2,358 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: The author highlights some of the dangers of decentralizations. The benefits of decentralization in allocative efficiency are not as obvious as suggested by the standard theory of fiscal federalism. The assumptions of this theory are fragile. These doubtful benefits might carry a cost in production efficiency, but more empirical research is needed on this point. What is not doubtful is that decentralization runs counter to redistribution and stabilization. Decentralization makes redistributive policies, whether interpersonal or interjurisdictional, more difficult, if not impossible. Decentralization also makes macroeconomic stabilization programs more difficult to implement because subnational government fiscal policies can run counter to national policies. Serious drawbacks or potential drawbacks should be considered in designing any decentralization program. The arguments that the author develops make it easier to understand some of the real choices. These choices are not so much whether to decentralize in general but rather what functions to decentralize - in which sectors, and in which regions. Guidelines can be provided on this. Often, the problem is not so much whether a certain service should be provided by a central, regional, or local government, since the service often has to be provided with the intervention of all three levels of government. The real challenge is how to organize the joint production of the service. Decentralization refers simultaneously to a state and to a process. The virtues and dangers of decentralization are often discussed simultaneously for both concepts. This is a dangerous confusion because decentralization is path-dependent. What is desirable in a given country at a certain point in time depends on the present state of decentralization and the speed at which it has been reached. Much more work, particularly empirical work, is needed -- in review of decentralization (or centralization) experiences in general, as well as those encouraged or supported by the World Bank.

1,778 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
Wallace E. Oates1Institutions (1)
Abstract: Drawing on a wide range of literature and ideas, a new “second-generation theory of fiscal federalism” is emerging that provides new insights into the structure and working of federal systems. After a restatement and review of the first-generation theory, this paper surveys this new body of work and offers some thoughts on the ways in which it is extending our understanding of fiscal federalism and on its implications for the design of fiscal institutions.

932 citations

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No. of papers in the topic in previous years

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Topic's top 5 most impactful authors

Lars P. Feld

52 papers, 1.6K citations

Robin Boadway

19 papers, 901 citations

Jorge Martinez-Vazquez

15 papers, 413 citations

Gebhard Kirchgässner

14 papers, 611 citations

Brian Dollery

13 papers, 123 citations