A growing literature emphasizes that the output effect of fiscal consolidation hinges on its composition, as the choice of increasing revenues vs cutting expenditure is not neutral. Existing studies, however, underscore the role of local governments in a federal setting. Indeed, transfer cuts at the central level might translate into higher local taxes, changing the effective composition of the fiscal adjustment. We evaluate this transmission mechanism in Italy, where municipalities below the threshold of 5,000 inhabitants were exempted from (large) transfer cuts in 2012. This allows us to implement a difference-in-discontinuities design in order to estimate the causal impact of transfer cuts on the composition of fiscal adjustment, also because tight fiscal rules impose a balanced budget on Italian municipalities. We find a pass-through mechanism by which local governments react to the contraction of intergovernmental grants by mainly increasing taxes rather than reducing spending. From a political economy perspective, this revenue based fiscal consolidation is driven by local governments with low electoral competition and low party fragmentation.

Revenue vs expenditure based fiscal consolidation: the pass-through from federal cuts to local taxes

Nannicini, Tommaso
;
2022-01-01

Abstract

A growing literature emphasizes that the output effect of fiscal consolidation hinges on its composition, as the choice of increasing revenues vs cutting expenditure is not neutral. Existing studies, however, underscore the role of local governments in a federal setting. Indeed, transfer cuts at the central level might translate into higher local taxes, changing the effective composition of the fiscal adjustment. We evaluate this transmission mechanism in Italy, where municipalities below the threshold of 5,000 inhabitants were exempted from (large) transfer cuts in 2012. This allows us to implement a difference-in-discontinuities design in order to estimate the causal impact of transfer cuts on the composition of fiscal adjustment, also because tight fiscal rules impose a balanced budget on Italian municipalities. We find a pass-through mechanism by which local governments react to the contraction of intergovernmental grants by mainly increasing taxes rather than reducing spending. From a political economy perspective, this revenue based fiscal consolidation is driven by local governments with low electoral competition and low party fragmentation.
2021
Marattin, Luigi; Nannicini, Tommaso; Porcelli, Francesco
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11565/4052249
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