The Nasty Gap 30 years after unification: Why East Germany is still 20% poorer than the...
Three Research Clusters ...
Vertical Grants and Local Public Efficiency
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.
13.12.2018 • 21/2018
Economic activity in the world and in Germany is losing momentum
In the second half of 2018, the upturn of the German economy has stalled. Production of the automotive industry declined because of delays in switching production to WLTP compliant cars. Irrespectively of this, the German export business has been weakening since the beginning of the year, since the global economy, burdened by the political uncertainties surrounding trade conflicts, the impending Brexit and the conflict over the Italian budget, was unable to keep up with the high momentum of 2017. “It is to be expected that the less benign external environment will not only dampen exports, but will also impact on companies’ investment and hiring decisions”, says Oliver Holtemöller, head of the Department Macroeconomics and vice president at Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH). Gross domestic product is expected to increase by 1.5% in 2018 and by 1.4% in 2019, which is roughly equal to the growth rate of economic capacity in Germany.
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19.04.2018 • 7/2018
Joint Economic Forecast Spring 2018: Germany’s Economic Experts Raise Forecast Slightly
Berlin, 19 April – Germany’s leading economic experts raised their forecasts for 2018 and 2019 slightly in their Spring Joint Economic Forecast released on Thursday in Berlin. They now expect economic growth of 2.2 percent for this year and 2.0 percent for 2019, versus 2.0 percent and 1.8 percent respectively in their autumn forecast. “The German economy is still booming, but the air is getting thinner as unused capacities are shrinking“, notes Timo Wollmershaeuser, ifo Head of Economic Forecasting. Commenting on the new German government’s economic policy, he adds: “It is precisely when the government’s coffers are full that fiscal policy should reflect the implications of its actions for overall economic stability and the sustainability of public finances. The extension of statutory pension benefits outlined in the coalition agreement runs counter to the idea of sustainability.”
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Corporate Taxation and Firm Location in Germany
IWH Discussion Papers,
German Fiscal Federalism is characterized by a high degree of fiscal equalization which lowers the efficiency of local tax administration. Currently, a reform of the fiscal equalization scheme is on the political agenda. One option is to grant federal states the right to raise surtaxes on statutory tax rates set by the central government in order to reduce the equalization rate. In such an environment, especially those federal states with lower economic performance would have to raise comparatively high surtaxes. With capital mobility, this could further lower economic performance and thus tax revenues. Although statutory tax rates are so far identical across German federal states, corporate tax burden differs for several reasons. This paper tries to identify the impact of such differences on firm location. As can be shown, effective corporate taxation did seemingly not have a significant impact on firm location across German federal states.
Fiscal Equalization, Tax Salience, and Tax Competition
IWH Discussion Papers,
Jurisdictions that engage in inter-regional tax competition usually try to attenuate competitive pressures by substituting salient tax instruments with hidden ones. On this effect, we investigate the efficiency consequences of inter-regional tax competition and fiscal equalization in a federal system when taxpayers fail to optimally react on shrouded attributes of local tax policy. If the statuary tax rate is a relatively salient instrument and taxpayers pay low attention to the quality and the frequency of tax enforcement, the underlying substitution of tax instruments with the aim of reducing the perceived tax price may suppress the under-exploitation of tax bases that is typically triggered by fiscal equalization.
Grant Dependence, Regulation and the Effects of Formula-based Grant Systems on German Local Governments: A Data Report for Saxony-Anhalt
IWH Discussion Papers,
Recent empirical studies have found – seemingly − efficiency-enhancing effects of vertical grants on local public service provision. The main purpose of this paper is to prepare an elaborate theoretical and empirical analysis of these contradictory results. Therefore, it investigates if certain fiscal and institutional conditions (fiscal stress, fiscal rank-preserving vertical grant systems, input- and output regulation), that might help to explain these empirical findings, are characteristic of at least some parts of the local government sector or certain regions. The German state of Saxony-Anhalt is chosen for case study purposes. The main results are: First, the local governments suffer from severe fiscal problems such as high grant dependency, low tax revenues and the prevalent inability to finance investments by own resources. Second, the output- and input-regulation density of certain mandatory municipal services (schools, childcare facilities, fire protection) is high. Finally, the most important vertical grant category for local governments, the formula-based grants (“Schlüsselzuweisungen”), can be described as mainly exogenous, unconditional block grants that in most cases preserve the relative fiscal position of the grant recipients.
Interregional equalization policy in focus: Donor regions and beneficiary regions and their economic performance
Wirtschaft im Wandel,
The future of the interregional equalization policy in Germany is discussed intensively at present. While in the past the interest of equalization policy was focussed primarily on the regions which benefit from interregional equalization policy (beneficiary regions) and the effects obtained there, recently the view is directed also toward the regions which bear the fiscal burden of the equalisation policy (donor regions). Concerning the donor regions, a fear of growth-absorbing withdrawal effects exists, which gives reason in view of declining economic growth rates on the national level to think about the future of interregional equalization policy. The IWH contributed to this debate together with two project partners by an investigation, which was accomplished on behalf of the Federal Office for Building and Regional Planning. The following findings will show the economic performance of the donor regions (exclusively West German regions) and of the beneficiary regions (all East German regions and a few West German regions) and their changing economic growth patterns. Concerning the level of economic performance, measured by means of the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, as expected, the donor regions, consisting of West German regions, in the period 1992-2003 altogether show an above average GDP per capita. In contrast, the beneficiary regions, both the East German and (less strongly) the West German show a GDP per capita below average. Concerning the development of the economic performance, which was measured on the basis of the relative GDP per capita (GDP per capita of the region concerned in relation to the national average), the East German beneficiary regions could catch up in the first period (1992-1998) strongly. This catching up process, however, clearly slowed down in the second period 1998-2003. Like a mirror-image the lead of the donor regions regarding GDP per capita in relation to the national average became smaller. But after 1998 many West German donor regions regained their growth dynamics. Additionally the contributions of the regions to the absolute increase of the GDP in the period 1998-2003 were investigated: 30 of 271 regions have a share of around 50% in the overall GDP increase, 28 of them located in West Germany, and 21 of them donor regions. This in mind, the policy should further provide and secure favourable development conditions for those regions, which contribute at most to the increase of the overall economic performance and thus create the economic base for the interregional equalization policy.