Vertical Grants and Local Public Efficiency. The Inference-disturbing Effect of Fiscal Equalization
Public Finance Review,
The existing empirical literature on the impact of vertical grants on local public-sector efficiency yields mixed results. Given the fact that vertical financial equalization systems often reduce differences in fiscal capacity, we argue that empirical studies based on cross-sectional data may yield a positive relationship between grants and efficiency of public service production even when the underlying causal effect is not. We provide a simple illustrative theoretical model to show the logic of our argument and illustrate its relevance by an empirical case study for the German state of Saxony-Anhalt. We show that our main argument of an inference-disturbing effect applies to those existing studies that are more optimistic about the impact of vertical grants. Finally, we argue that it may disturb the inference drawn from studies in a number of other countries where vertical grants—intended or not—concentrate in fiscally weak municipalities.
Endogenous Institution Formation in Public Good Games: The Effect of Economic Education
In a public good experiment, the paper analyses to which extent individuals with economic education behave differently in a second-order dilemma. Second-order dilemmas may arise, when individuals endogenously build up costly institutions that help to overcome a public good problem (first-order dilemma). The specific institution used in the experiment is a communication platform allowing for group communication before the first-order public good game takes place. The experimental results confirm the finding of the literature that economists tend to free ride more intensively in public good games than non-economists. The difference is the strongest in the end-game phase, yielding in the conclusion that the magnitude of the end-game effect depends on the share of economists in the pool of participants. When it comes to the building-up of institutions, the individual efficiency gain of the institution and its inherent cost function constitute the driving forces for the contribution behaviour. Providing an investment friendly environment yields in economists contributing more to the institution than non-economists. Therefore, we make clear that first-order results of a simple public good game cannot be simply applied for second-order incentive problems.
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