Fiscal federalism network

Other OECD work on Fiscal Federalism


FFN cover page part 1

OECD Economics Department Working Papers

Fiscal Consolidation Across Government Levels - Part 1. How Much, What Policies?


Author: Hansjörg Blöchliger

This paper provides an overview of fiscal consolidation efforts at the central and sub-central government level, both during the current and past consolidation episodes. After experiencing a deficit and debt hike during the crisis, sub-central debt is mostly stabilising. So far, sub-central consolidation has been mainly achieved through spending cuts, while overall revenues remained largely stable. Sub-central tax revenues rose a bit, but intergovernmental transfers went down slightly. Sub-central governments in a few countries need to consolidate further, if they want to reach debt levels of 2007 or 2011 by the year 2026, as shown by fiscal gap calculations.


FN cover page part 2

OECD Economics Department Working Papers

Fiscal Consolidation Across Government Levels - Part 2. Fiscal Rules for Sub-central Governments, Update of the Institutional Indicator


Author: Kaja Fredriksen

Fiscal rules that constrain sub-central government (SCG) budgeting are very common across the OECD, but there are substantial cross-country differences in their implementation and impact. This paper presents the 2011 update of the fiscal rules database established in 2005. As in 2005, budget balance objectives are the most common form of rule along with borrowing constraints, while limits on SCG expenditure are rare.


‌‌‌Fiscal network cover page part 3

OECD Economics Department Working Papers

Fiscal Consolidation Across Government Levels - Part 3. Intergovernmental Grants, Pro- or Counter-cyclical?


Author: Hansjörg Blöchliger, Balázs Égert

This paper provides empirical analysis that measures the cyclical properties of intergovernmental transfers (or grants). Modelling a fiscal policy reaction function this paper tests whether the transfers systems in OECD countries are pro- or counter-cyclical, i.e. whether they offset cyclical fluctuations of sub-central economies or, on the contrary, exacerbate them. Regression results suggest that transfer systems tend to be pro-cyclical in general and in more than half of OECD countries they tend to destabilise sub-central budgets.


‌‌Sub-national Finances and Fiscal Consolidation: walking on thin ice

OECD Regional Development Working Papers

Sub-national Finances and Fiscal Consolidation: Walking on Thin Ice


Author: Camila Vammalle, Claudia Hulbert

Recent crises and national consolidation packages affected sub-national finances. In many OECD countries, central governments introduced reductions in transfers to sub-national governments, and established expenditure and/or deficit objectives to be met by local or regional authorities. Such measures have reduced the financial room of sub-national governments for implementing key public services or investments. In parallel, borrowing conditions deteriorated for many sub-national governments, as banks and financial markets became increasingly reluctant to lend. Since late 2008, financial markets started discriminating between high- and low-quality SNG bonds, and yields reached record-high levels for sub-national governments perceived as less creditworthy.


Improving Fiscal Federal Relations for a Stronger Mexico

OECD Economics Department Working Papers

Improving Fiscal Federal Relations for a Stronger Mexico


Author: Aida Caldera Sánchez

Mexico has achieved a high degree of decentralisation in public services, but the Mexican fiscal federal system has important shortcomings. States and municipalities have become heavily dependent on federal transfers to finance a growing share of public spending. This leaves the burden of raising tax revenues falling almost exclusively on the federal government and reduces incentives for efficient spending and active tax collection at the subnational level. It can also lead to moral hazard and fiscal slippages. The federal government should harden the budget constraint on sub-national governments by limiting further increases in transfers and avoiding extraordinary transfers.


OECD Regional Development Working Papers

Passing the Buck? Central and Sub-National Governments in Times of Fiscal Stress


Authors: Rudiger Ahrend, Marta Curto-Grau, Camila Vammalle

The paper explores interrelations between the fiscal situation of sub-national and central governments, or – put differently – whether and how sub-national and central governments contribute to each other’s fiscal difficulties.


OECD Economics Department Working Paper

The System of Revenue Sharing and Fiscal Transfers in China


Authors: Xiao Wang, Richard Herd

The main features of China’s current sub-national finance arrangements date back to the 1994 tax reform. China has a multi-level government structure that shares national tax revenues through a system of tax sharing and transfers, and divides spending assignments and responsibilities. Local governments have hardly any discretionary power to modify taxation, though they have some non-tax revenue from fees, levies and penalties. This Working Paper relates to the 2013 OECD Economic Survey of China (


OECD Economics Department Working Paper

Public Sector Spending Efficiency in Estonia: Healthcare and Local Government


Authors: Zuzana Smidova

The Estonian fiscal position is much better than in many OECD countries, the country stands out for having a rather lean government sector and the authorities are striving for efficient use of existing resources. Both healthcare and local government were particularly hit the by the decrease of resources as a result of the unprecedented GDP fall during the downturn. As a return to high revenue buoyancy will not be immediate, there are challenges for delivering the same with less money but it is also an opportunity to reconsider provision of public services. This working Paper relates to the 2010 Economic Survey of Estonia (


OECD Economics Department Working Paper

Does Fiscal Decentralisation Strengthen Social Capital? Cross-Country Evidence and the Experiences of Brazil and Indonesia


Authors: Luiz de Mello

This paper tests the hypothesis that, by giving people more voice in the government decision-making process, fiscal decentralisation fosters social capital, measured in terms of interpersonal trust. Empirical evidence based on World Values Survey data and seemingly unrelated probit estimations for a cross-section of countries suggests that people living in federal/decentralised countries find it more important to have voice in government decisions than their counterparts living in unitary/centralised countries.


OECD Economics Department Working Paper

Fiscal Decentralisation and Public Investment: The Experience of Latin America.


Authors: Luiz de Mello

Despite large differences across countries, Latin America’s average investment-to-GDP ratio and the overall quality of infrastructure in the region are relatively low by international comparison. Empirical evidence on the effects of fiscal decentralisation on investment based on a panel of Latin American countries since the late 1990 suggests that fiscal decentralisation discourages Latin American subnational governments from investing (acquiring fixed assets) and that lower subnational spending on investment is associated with lower economy-wide gross fixed capital formation.


OECD Economics Department Working Paper

A Simulation Model of Federal, Provincial and Territorial Government Accounts for the Analysis of Fiscal-Consolidation Strategies in Canada.


Authors: Yvan Guillemette1

This paper presents a simulation model of the main budget aggregates of federal, provincial and territorial governments in Canada. The general approach is to use a cyclical indicator (output gap), estimate the sensitivity of government revenue and expenditure to this cyclical indicator using historical data, and use projections of the cyclical indicator to simulate budgetary outcomes under various economic scenarios. Provincial/territorial annual output gaps are estimated going back to 1984. These are used to jointly estimate for all governments the historical sensitivities of the main revenue and expenditure categories to provincial/territorial economic cycles using Seemingly Unrelated Regressions.


OECD Economics Department Working Paper

Fiscal Federalism in Belgium: Main Challenges and Considerations for Reform


Authors: Willi Leibfritz

The paper discusses the current state of fiscal relations across levels of government in Belgium and how it has developed over time. As the current system of fiscal federalism is creating imbalances between the federal and the sub-federal governments (vertical imbalance), and between sub-federal governments (horizontal imbalance) the paper also suggests directions for improvements. Without reform, the vertical imbalance will widen as the fiscal burden from the ageing of the population falls mainly on the federal level.


OECD Economics Department Working Paper

Local Government Finances: The Link between Intergovernmental Transfers and Net Worth


Authors: Luiz de Mello

There is a large literature on how the sharing of revenue between different levels of government and the design of intergovernmental transfer schemes affect sub-national finances. Using a panel of OECD countries during 1980-2005, this paper tests for: i) the presence of a stable long-run statistical association between changes in transfer receipts and sub-national net worth and ii) the direction of causality between changes in transfer receipts and net worth. The main empirical findings are that, first, there is a stable long-term relationship between transfer receipts and local government net worth for the case of current, but not capital, transfers.


OECD Economics Department Working Paper

Meeting the Challenges of Decentralisation in France


Authors: Stéphanie Jamet

Despite France’s previously well-deserved reputation as a highly centralised state, a significant number of responsibilities have been devolved to regional and local government over the past two decades. The process has not been easy. The extremely large number of very small municipalities makes economies of scale in the implementation of policies hard to realise, and measures to overcome this have been at best only partially successful. Competence is often shared between levels of government, obscuring accountability, and the central government has often retained an arguably unnecessary degree of prerogatives.


OECD Economics Department Working Paper

Fiscal Relations Across Levels of Government in Australia


Authors: Vassiliki Koutsogeorgopoulou

Key areas of public service provision in Australia are subject to complex patterns of joint government involvement that can lead to inefficiencies. Clarifying government roles and responsibilities is likely to have a significant potential for improving public sector efficiency. Fragmentation of decision making and funding arrangements, particularly in the areas of hospital services and old-age care, creates incentives for cost and blame-shifting between government levels. A collaborative approach between government levels to overcome some of these problems, as recently initiated by the Council of Australian Governments, would help to develop better governance arrangements and improve spending assignments.


OECD Economics Department Working Paper

Improving Public-spending Efficiency in Czech Regions and Municipalities


Authors: Philip Hemmings

This paper looks at ways of ensuring Czech regions and municipalities are fully motivated to make efficiency improvements in public service provision and so help achieve countrywide fiscal sustainability. The very large number of small municipalities in the Czech Republic means that scale economies are difficult to exploit and the policy options for overcoming this problem are discussed. In the financing system there are issues of transparency and the balance between autonomy for the regions and municipalities and central-government power to direct resources. In terms of accountability, questions of oversight and transparency arise in the public-procurement system and benchmarking in cost and output in public services is not yet widely used. This Working Paper relates to the 2006 OECD Economic Survey of the Czech Republic (


OECD Economics Department Working Paper

Reforming Federal Fiscal Relations in Austria


Authors: Andrés Fuentes, Eckhard Wurzel, Andreas Wörgötter

This paper reviews the fiscal relations between the three levels of government in Austria and points to the scope for reforming them with a view to improving the efficiency of the public sector. Key areas of public sector activity are subject to complex relations across the three layers of government. Fragmentation of decision-making in some spending programmes, such as hospital care and social assistance benefits, needs to be overcome, concentrating financing and spending responsibilities on one government level. This Working Paper relates to the 2005 OECD Economic Survey of Austria (


OECD Economics Department Working Paper

Getting the Most Out of Public-Sector Decentralisation in Korea


Authors: Randall S. Jones, Tadashi Yokoyama

This paper discusses policies to improve fiscal relations between levels of government to better meet the needs of citizens, an objective of the government’s "Roadmap for Decentralisation". Although local government accounts for around half of total government spending, they have little autonomy and fiscal resources vary sharply between regions. The priority should be to enhance the independence of local authorities by establishing a clear division of responsibilities and transferring additional assignments to the local level. This Working Paper relates to the 2005 OECD Economic Survey of Korea (


OECD Economics Department Working Paper

Fiscal Relations Across Levels of Government in the United States


Authors: Thomas Laubach

This paper discusses the current state of fiscal relations between the federal, state and local governments in the United States and suggests directions for improvement. The significant degree of fiscal autonomy of the states and, to a lesser extent, of local governments has had several beneficial effects, including the responsiveness of public expenditure to local preferences and the comparatively high degree of accountability through the close link between revenue-raising powers and expenditure assignments. This link reflects traditionally weak support for redistribution across jurisdictions. Grants from the federal to sub-national governments are focused on achieving aims of an efficiency or paternalistic nature and are therefore all earmarked. This Working Paper relates to the 2005 OECD Economic Survey of the United States (


OECD Economics Department Working Paper

Getting the Most Out of Public Sector Decentralisation in Mexico


Authors: Isabelle Joumard

Enhanced autonomy of sub-national governments has spurred innovative management. Spending assignments across levels of government, however, often overlap and/or are not yet fully understood by most citizens. Sub-national governments’ accountability is further reduced by the heavy reliance on federal transfers, as opposed to own-revenues (taxes and user fees). In addition, the use of federal transfers as collateral for states' borrowing potentially undermines the role of financial markets in disciplining fiscal behaviour. This Working Paper relates to the 2005 OECD Economic Survey of Mexico (


OECD Economics Department Working Paper

Getting the Most Out of Public Sector Decentralisation in Spain


Authors: Isabelle Joumard, Claude Giorno

In about two decades, Spain was transformed from one of the most centralised countries to one of the most decentralised. Spending functions were devolved rapidly. The regions have exercised their discretionary powers quite extensively and innovative policies have been implemented. But devolution was also accompanied by a hike in public employment and pressures on public spending, reflecting duplication in resources and poor co-ordination across and between government levels. This Working Paper relates to the 2005 OECD Economic Survey of Spain (


OECD Economics Department Working Paper

Getting the Most Out of Public Sector Decentralisation in Japan


Authors: Isabelle Joumard, Tadashi Yokoyama

Revamping fiscal relations across levels of government is of paramount importance in supporting fiscal consolidation and public sector effectiveness. This paper analyses a number of problems, including regulations that limit local governments’ ability to innovate and respond to local citizens’ preferences, the inefficient system of intergovernmental grants, the complex structure of local taxes and fiscal rules which are too lenient to secure fiscal discipline. The paper concludes that the grant system should be reformed to promote local governments’ incentives to introduce innovations so as to better respond to needs at lower cost.


OECD Economics Department Working Paper

Fiscal Relations across Government Levels


Authors: Isabelle Joumard1, Per Mathis Kongsrud

Despite its apparent advantages, devolution of fiscal responsibilities has not proceeded evenly over the past two decades. Decentralisation can strengthen the democratic process, allow governments to tailor the supply of public goods to local preferences and introduce some competition across jurisdictions, thus raising public sector efficiency. It can, however, entail efficiency losses, and make it difficult to implement redistributive policies and complicate macroeconomic management. On the spending side, local provision may fail to exploit economies of scale and internalise territorial spillovers -- a serious issue since few public goods are purely local by nature.



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