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Assist or desist? Conditional bailouts and fiscal discipline in local governments

Dietrichson, Jens LU and Ellegård, Lina Maria LU (2012) In Working Paper 2012(24).
Abstract
Central government bailouts of local governments are commonly viewed as a recipe for local fiscal indiscipline, as local governments learn that the center will come to rescue in times of trouble. Little is however known about whether such tendencies can be dampened if assistance is made conditional upon the local governments' own fiscal efforts. We examine a case in which the Swedish central government provided conditional grants to 36 financially troubled municipalities: to receive the grant, municipalities first had to cut costs and balance their budgets. For each municipality, we estimate the long run program effect on per capita costs of services using the synthetic control method for case studies (Abadie and Gardeazabal, 2003; Abadie... (More)
Central government bailouts of local governments are commonly viewed as a recipe for local fiscal indiscipline, as local governments learn that the center will come to rescue in times of trouble. Little is however known about whether such tendencies can be dampened if assistance is made conditional upon the local governments' own fiscal efforts. We examine a case in which the Swedish central government provided conditional grants to 36 financially troubled municipalities: to receive the grant, municipalities first had to cut costs and balance their budgets. For each municipality, we estimate the long run program effect on per capita costs of services using the synthetic control method for case studies (Abadie and Gardeazabal, 2003; Abadie et al., 2010). The number of municipalities that substantially reduce their costs after the program is much larger than the number that substantially increase their costs, and there is a cost reducing effect on average. Fixed effects estimations with net revenues as measure of fiscal performance corroborate these findings for costs. Conditional bailouts need thus not erode fiscal responsibility and may even induce fiscal discipline. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Working Paper
publication status
in press
subject
keywords
Bailouts, local governments, fiscal performance, synthetic control method
in
Working Paper
volume
2012
issue
24
pages
45 pages
publisher
Department of Economics, Lund Universtiy
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
ff548a40-27b4-4a60-920b-ec5c0dc9b44a (old id 3233134)
alternative location
http://www.nek.lu.se/publications/workpap/papers/WP12_24.pdf
date added to LUP
2012-12-11 08:51:03
date last changed
2016-07-11 08:58:39
@misc{ff548a40-27b4-4a60-920b-ec5c0dc9b44a,
  abstract     = {Central government bailouts of local governments are commonly viewed as a recipe for local fiscal indiscipline, as local governments learn that the center will come to rescue in times of trouble. Little is however known about whether such tendencies can be dampened if assistance is made conditional upon the local governments' own fiscal efforts. We examine a case in which the Swedish central government provided conditional grants to 36 financially troubled municipalities: to receive the grant, municipalities first had to cut costs and balance their budgets. For each municipality, we estimate the long run program effect on per capita costs of services using the synthetic control method for case studies (Abadie and Gardeazabal, 2003; Abadie et al., 2010). The number of municipalities that substantially reduce their costs after the program is much larger than the number that substantially increase their costs, and there is a cost reducing effect on average. Fixed effects estimations with net revenues as measure of fiscal performance corroborate these findings for costs. Conditional bailouts need thus not erode fiscal responsibility and may even induce fiscal discipline.},
  author       = {Dietrichson, Jens and Ellegård, Lina Maria},
  keyword      = {Bailouts,local governments,fiscal performance,synthetic control method},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Working Paper},
  number       = {24},
  pages        = {45},
  publisher    = {Department of Economics, Lund Universtiy},
  series       = {Working Paper},
  title        = {Assist or desist? Conditional bailouts and fiscal discipline in local governments},
  volume       = {2012},
  year         = {2012},
}