Decentralization and the duration of fiscal consolidation: shifting the burden across layers of government

“The consolidation of the general government budget appears to be of longer duration when expenditure decisions are more decentralized. We also find that transfers from higher levels of government are cut during consolidation episodes, suggesting that central governments shift the burden of consolidation towards lower tiers of government. This is especially true when the latter have little legal autonomy to raise tax revenues and have little influence over executive decisions taken at the central level.

We document that this increases local governments’ public debt/GDP ratios. In terms of the success of consolidation episodes, countries with greater degrees of decentralization appear to make smaller improvements in their primary balance when consolidating.”

This paper analyzes the relationship between fiscal decentralization, the duration of fiscal consolidation episodes, and their success for 17 OECD countries between 1978 and 2009.

Published in Public Choice | Dirk Foremny | 2017