Federal grants for local development to stop economic decline? – Lessons from Germany

The chapter analyses theoretically and empirically the supply-side effects of the public investments funded by the German „Economic Stimulus Package II“(Konjunkturpaket II), which was implemented in 2009. In the theoretical part, we address the distortionary effects of investment grants on public capital provision and local economic development. According to the theoretical literature on the efficient provision of public goods, public inputs and economic growth, conditional investment grants have several negative allocation effects: First, they distort the relative factor prices for the local government stimulating excess public capital stocks and Pareto-inefficient provision of public goods. Second, long-term growth-enhancing effects of debt-financed public investment could only be expected for public inputs, which either directly increase the productivity of the private sector or increase factor productivity, especially by increasing the stock of human capital. In the empirical part, we find that despite of the recent increase in municipal investments in the German state of Saxony our regression results do not confirm a connection with the ESPII funds. Furthermore, no relationship between the municipal fiscal strength and the amount of ESPII grants received could be found. All in all, due to the focus of the grants on public consumption goods rather than public inputs only marginal future growth effects can be expected from the subsidized investments.

15. October 2012

Authors Peter Haug Martin T. W. Rosenfeld

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