Shadow Budgets, Fiscal Illusion and Municipal Spending: The Case of Germany
The paper investigates the existence of fiscal illusion in German municipalities with special focus on the revenues from local public enterprises. These shadow budgets tend to increase the misperception of municipal tax prices and seem to have been neglected in the literature. Therefore, an aggregated expenditure function has been estimated for all German independent cities applying an “integrated budget” approach, which means that revenues and expenditures of the core budget and the local public enterprises are combined to one single municipal budget. The estimation results suggest that a higher relative share of local public enterprise revenues might increase total per capita spending as well as spending for non-obligatory municipal goods and services. Empirical evidence for other sources of fiscal illusion is mixed but some indications for debt illusion, renter illusion or the flypaper effect could be found.