nep-pbe New Economics Papers
on Public Economics
Issue of 2006‒12‒22
fourteen papers chosen by
Peren Arin
Massey University

  1. Emergence and Persistence of Inefficient States By Daron Acemoglu; Davide Ticchi; Andrea Vindigni
  2. Coalition Formation in Political Games By Daron Acemoglu; Georgy Egorov; Konstantin Sonin
  3. Taxing Sales Under the FairTax: What Rate Works? By Paul Bachman; Jonathan Haughton; Laurence J. Kotlikoff; Alfonso Sanchez-Penalver; David G. Tuerck
  4. Assessing the Effects of Local Taxation Using Microgeographic Data By Gilles Duranton; Laurent Gobillon; Henry G. Overman
  5. Stratification and Public Utility Services in Colombia: Subsidies to Households or Distortions on Housing Prices? By Carlos Medina; Leonardo Morales
  6. Effects Of Public Policies On The Disposition Of Lump-Sum Distributions: Rational And Behavioral Influences By William G. Gale; Michael Dworsky
  7. Economic Performance and Work Activity in Sweden after the Crisis of the Early 1990s By Steven J. Davis; Magnus Henrekson
  8. The effects of public capital on the productivity of the Italian regions By Emanuela Marrocu; Raffaele Paci
  9. Party Influence in Congress and the Economy By Erik Snowberg; Justin Wolfers; Eric Zitzewitz
  10. Top Ten Myths Of Social Security Reform By Jeffrey Brown; Kevin Hassett; Kent Smetters
  11. Boosting Innovation Performance in Brazil By Carlos H. de Brito Cruz; Luiz de Mello
  12. Job Creation and Job Destruction in the Presence of Informal Labour Markets By Mariano Bosch
  13. Owners of Developed Land versus Owners of Undeveloped Land: Why Land Use is More Constrained in the Bay Area than in Pittsburgh By Christian Hilber; Frédéric Robert-Nicoud
  14. Assessing projects and programmes for cohesion policy at the EIB. By Gianni CARBONARO

  1. By: Daron Acemoglu; Davide Ticchi; Andrea Vindigni
    Abstract: Inefficiencies in the bureaucratic organization of the state are often viewed as important factors in retarding economic development. Why certain societies choose or end up with such inefficient organizations has received very little attention, however. In this paper, we present a simple theory of the emergence and persistence of inefficient states. The society consists of rich and poor individuals. The rich are initially in power, but expect to transition to democracy, which will choose redistributive policies. Taxation requires the employment of bureaucrats. We show that, under certain circumstances, by choosing an inefficient state structure, the rich may be able to use patronage and capture democratic politics. This enables them to reduce the amount of redistribution and public good provision in democracy. Moreover, the inefficient state creates its own constituency and tends to persist over time. Intuitively, an inefficient state structure creates more rents for bureaucrats than would an efficient state structure. When the poor come to power in democracy, they will reform the structure of the state to make it more efficient so that higher taxes can be collected at lower cost and with lower rents for bureaucrats. Anticipating this, when the society starts out with an inefficient organization of the state, bureaucrats support the rich, who set lower taxes but also provide rents to bureaucrats. We show that in order to generate enough political support, the coalition of the rich and bureaucrats may not only choose an inefficient organization of the state, but they may further expand the size of bureaucracy so as to gain additional votes. The model shows that an equilibrium with an inefficient state is more likely to arise when there is greater inequality between the rich and the poor, when bureaucratic rents take intermediate values and when individuals are sufficiently forward-looking.
    JEL: H11 H26 H41 P16
    Date: 2006–12
  2. By: Daron Acemoglu; Georgy Egorov; Konstantin Sonin
    Abstract: We study the formation of a ruling coalition in political environments. Each individual is endowed with a level of political power. The ruling coalition consists of a subset of the individuals in the society and decides the distribution of resources. A ruling coalition needs to contain enough powerful members to win against any alternative coalition that may challenge it, and it needs to be self-enforcing, in the sense that none of its sub-coalitions should be able to secede and become the new ruling coalition. We first present an axiomatic approach that captures these notions and determines a (generically) unique ruling coalition. We then construct a simple dynamic game that encompasses these ideas and prove that the sequentially weakly dominant equilibria (and the Markovian trembling hand perfect equilibria) of this game coincide with the set of ruling coalitions of the axiomatic approach. We also show the equivalence of these notions to the core of a related non-transferable utility cooperative game. In all cases, the nature of the ruling coalition is determined by the power constraint, which requires that the ruling coalition be powerful enough, and by the enforcement constraint, which imposes that no sub-coalition of the ruling coalition that commands a majority is self-enforcing. The key insight that emerges from this characterization is that the coalition is made self-enforcing precisely by the failure of its winning sub-coalitions to be self-enforcing. This is most simply illustrated by the following simple finding: with a simple majority rule, while three-person (or larger) coalitions can be self-enforcing, two-person coalitions are generically not self-enforcing. Therefore, the reasoning in this paper suggests that three-person juntas or councils should be more common than two-person ones. In addition, we provide conditions under which the grand coalition will be the ruling coalition and conditions under which the most powerful individuals will not be included in the ruling coalition. We also use this framework to discuss endogenous party formation.
    JEL: C71 D71 D74
    Date: 2006–12
  3. By: Paul Bachman; Jonathan Haughton; Laurence J. Kotlikoff; Alfonso Sanchez-Penalver; David G. Tuerck
    Abstract: As specified in Congressional bill H.R. 25/S. 25, the FairTax is a proposal to replace the federal personal income tax, corporate income tax, payroll (FICA) tax, capital gains, alternative minimum, self-employment, and estate and gifts taxes with a single-rate federal retail sales tax. The FairTax also provides a prebate to each household based on its demographic composition. The prebate is set to ensure that households pay no taxes net on spending up to the poverty level. Bill Gale (2005) and the President's Advisory Panel on Federal Tax Reform (2005) suggest that the effective (tax inclusive) tax rate needed to implement H.R. 25 is far higher than the proposed 23% rate. This study, which builds on Gale's (2005) analysis, shows that a 23% rate is eminently feasible and suggests why Gale and the Tax Panel reached the opposite conclusion. This paper begins by projecting the FairTax's 2007 tax base net of its rebate. Next it calculates the tax rate needed to maintain the real levels of federal and state spending under the FairTax. It then determines if an effective rate of 23% would be sufficient to fund 2007 estimated spending or if not, the amount by which non-Social Security federal expenditures would need to be reduced. Finally, it shows that the FairTax imposes no additional real fiscal burdens on state and local government, notwithstanding the requirement that such governments pay the FairTax when they purchase goods and services. Implementing the FairTax rate of 23% would produce $2,586 billion in federal tax revenues which is $358 billion more than the $2,228 billion in tax revenues generated by the taxes it repeals. Adjusting the base for the prebate and the administrative credit paid to businesses and states for collecting the tax results in a net tax base of $9,355 billion. In 2007, spending at current levels is projected to be $3,285 billion. Revenues from the FairTax at a 23% tax rate, plus other federal revenues, are estimated to yield $3,209 billion which is $76 billion less than current CBO spending projections for 2007. The $76 billion amounts to only 2.73% of non-Social Security spending ($2,177 -- $2,101). This is a remarkably small adjustment when set against the more than 30% rise in the real value of these expenditures since 2000. Ensuring real revenue neutrality at the federal level, given the net base of $9,355 billion, implies a rate of 23.82% on a tax-inclusive basis and 31.27% on a tax-exclusive basis. These and other calculations presented here ignore a) general equilibrium feedback (supply-side and demand-side) effects that could significantly raise the FairTax base (see, for example, Kotlikoff and Jokisch, 2005), b) the possibility that tax evasion would exceed the considerable amount automatically incorporated here via the use of NIPA data, which undercount consumption expenditures due to evasion under the current tax system, and c) the roughly $1 trillion real capital gain the federal government would secure on its outstanding nominal debt, were consumer prices to rise by the full amount of the FairTax. The FairTax redistributes real purchasing power from state and local governments to their state and local income-tax taxpayers. It does so by reducing factor prices relative to consumer prices and, thereby, reducing the real value (measured at consumer prices) of state and local income tax payments, which are assessed on factor incomes (namely, factor supplies times factor prices). Gale (2005) and the Tax Panel (2005) recognized this loss in real state and local government revenues in claiming that these governments need to be compensated for having to pay the FairTax. But what they apparently missed is that this loss to these governments is exactly offset by a gain to their taxpayers. Were state and local governments to maintain their real income tax collections -- the assumption made here -- by increasing their tax rates appropriately, their taxpayers' real tax burdens would remain unchanged and there would be no need for the federal government to compensate state and local governments for having to pay the FairTax on their purchases. The second is that H.R. 25 does not preclude state and local governments from levying their sales taxes on the FairTax-inclusive price of consumer goods and services. This produces significantly more revenue compared to levying their sales taxes on producer prices. Moreover, Gale (2005) and the Tax Panel (2005) arrived at a higher tax rate because they did not estimate the Fairtax rate, but instead estimated a sales tax of their own design which had a substantially narrower base.
    JEL: H1 H2
    Date: 2006–12
  4. By: Gilles Duranton; Laurent Gobillon; Henry G. Overman
    Abstract: We study the impact of local taxation on the location and growth of firms. Our empirical methodology pairs establishments across jurisdictional boundaries to estimate the impact of taxation. Our approach improves on existing work as it corrects for unobserved establishment heterogeneity, for unobservedtime-varying site specific effects, and for the endogeneity of local taxation. Applied to data for English manufacturing establishments we find that local taxation has a negative impact onemployment growth, but no effect on entry.
    Keywords: Local taxation, spatial differencing, borders
    JEL: H22 H71 R38
    Date: 2006–08
  5. By: Carlos Medina; Leonardo Morales
    Abstract: Domiciliary public utility services in Colombia have a cross subsidy system which charges subsidized rates to the households who live in houses located in strata associated to low wealth levels, and taxed rates to the better off. We assesses the hypothesis that the flow of subsidies that potentially come from a particular house, are discounted by housing market agents so that most of them are transferred to the prices of the houses that generate the subsidies. By estimating a hedonic prices model applying a regression discontinuity approach, we find that the increment in house value estimated because of subsidies is similar in magnitude to the present value of the flow of subsidies. Likely effects are found on the rent amount. We conclude that subsidies to the poor population through public spending in domiciliary public utility services in Colombia is being achieved, if anything, in a very limited way. Most of the financial effort on this subject ends up distorting housing relative prices according to socioeconomic strata, with an annual cost of up to 0.7% of GDP in supposed gross subsidies to domiciliary public utility services.
    Keywords: targeting of subsidies, Incidence, stratification, segregation, hedonic price models, regression discontinuity design. Classification JEL: C0; D31; H4; H22; H24; I3
  6. By: William G. Gale; Michael Dworsky
    Abstract: This paper provides new evidence on how public policies affect individuals' disposition of pre-retirement lump-sum distributions (LSDs) from pensions. The policies, enacted in the 1980s and 1990s, include changes in tax rates, penalties, withholding rules, and default options. Using data from the Health and Retirement Study, we find that each set of policies influence LSD choices independently and through interactions with the other set. The impact of defaults and withholding rules implies that behavioral considerations influence household choices. This in turn creates the possibility that a wide range of policies could be used to change saving behavior.
    Keywords: pensions, retirement, lump-sum distribution
    Date: 2006–08–17
  7. By: Steven J. Davis; Magnus Henrekson
    Abstract: Following a severe contraction in the early 1990s, the Swedish economy accumulated a strong record of output growth coupled with a disappointing performance in the labor market. As of 2005, hours worked per person 20-64 years of age are 10.5 percent below the 1990 peak and a mere one percent above the 1993 trough. Employment rates tell a similar story. Our explanation for Sweden's weak performance with respect to market work activity highlights the role of high tax rates on labor income and consumption expenditures, wage-setting arrangements that compress relative wages, business tax policies that disfavor labor-intensive industries and technologies, and a variety of policies and institutional arrangements that disadvantage younger and smaller businesses. This last category includes tax policies that penalize wealth accumulation in the form of owner-operated businesses, a pension system that steers equity capital and loanable funds to large incumbent corporations, and legally mandated job-security provisions that weigh more heavily on smaller and younger businesses. We describe these features of the Swedish institutional setup and provide evidence of their consequences based largely on international comparisons.
    JEL: D13 H30 J20 L52 O52
    Date: 2006–12
  8. By: Emanuela Marrocu; Raffaele Paci
    Abstract: This paper investigates on the role played by public capital in increasing the productivity levels in Italy. For the construction of the regional series for the public capital stock over the period 1996-2003, the study benefits from the use of the rich dataset on public expenditure, recently published by the Italian Ministry of Economy. We have estimated panel production functions with the inclusion of traditional factors and also intangible inputs like R&D expenditure, human capital and social capital. The results point out that public capital has a positive and significant effect on production. Moreover, the effects of all production factors vary considerably between the two macro-areas of the country, namely Centre-North and Mezzogiorno. More specifically, while private capital is more effective in the South, labour and public capital exhibits an elasticity much higher in the Centre-North with respect to the Mezzogiorno. The disaggregation of the public capital stock into economic categories indicates a significant different impact in the two macro-areas. When the analysis is carried out by distinguishing among government levels it turns out that the decentralized administrative bodies are much less efficient in the South in delivering public expenditure.
    Keywords: public capital, production function, regional disparities, Italy
    JEL: D24 H54 O47 R11 C23
    Date: 2006
  9. By: Erik Snowberg; Justin Wolfers; Eric Zitzewitz
    Abstract: To understand the extent to which partisan majorities in Congress influence economic policy, we compare financial market responses in recent midterm elections to Presidential elections. We use prediction markets tracking election outcomes as a means of precisely timing and calibrating the arrival of news, allowing substantially more precise estimates than a traditional event study methodology. We find that equity values, oil prices, and Treasury yields are slightly higher with Republican majorities in Congress, and that a switch in the majority party in a chamber of Congress has an impact that is only 10-30 percent of that of the Presidency. We also find evidence inconsistent with the popular view that divided government is better for equities, finding instead that equity valuations increase monotonically, albeit slightly, with the degree of Republican control.
    JEL: D72 G13 G14 H0
    Date: 2006–12
  10. By: Jeffrey Brown; Kevin Hassett; Kent Smetters
    Abstract: This paper critically examines ten leading myths that have gained currency in the debate about reforming the U.S. Social Security system, including myths that have been propagated by both proponents and opponents of including personal accounts as part of any reform package.
    Keywords: social security, pensions, reform packages
    Date: 2006–06–21
  11. By: Carlos H. de Brito Cruz; Luiz de Mello
    Abstract: Brazil's main challenge in innovation policy is to encourage the business sector to engage in productivity-enhancing innovative activities. At 1% of GDP, R&D spending (both public and private) is comparatively low by OECD standards and is carried out predominantly by the government. Most scientists work in public universities and research institutions, rather than in the business sector. Output indicators, such as the number of patents held abroad, suggest that there is much scope for improvement. Academic patenting effort is being stepped up and should be facilitated by the easing of restrictions on the transfer and sharing of proceeds of intellectual property rights between businesses and public universities and research institutions. Innovation policy is beginning to focus on the potential synergies among science and technology promotion, R&D support and trade competitiveness. To be successful in boosting business innovation, these policies will need to be complemented by measures aimed at tackling the shortage of skills in the labour force; this shortage is among the most important deterrents to innovation in Brazil, particularly against the backdrop of a widening gap in tertiary educational attainment with respect to the OECD area. <P>Stimuler l'innovation en Brésil <BR>En matière de politique d'innovation, le principal enjeu pour le Brésil est d?encourager le secteur des entreprises à s'engager dans des activités innovantes génératrices de gains de productivité. À 1% du PIB, les dépenses de R-D (publiques et privées) sont relativement faibles par comparaison avec les niveaux observés dans les pays de l?OCDE, et elles sont surtout imputables au secteur public. La plupart des chercheurs travaillent dans des universités et des établissements de recherche publics, et non dans le secteur des entreprises. Les indicateurs des résultats, tels que le nombre de brevets déposés à l'étranger, donnent à penser que la situation pourrait être sensiblement améliorée. Les universités déposent de plus en plus de brevets et il faudrait faciliter cette évolution en assouplissant les règles qui restreignent le transfert et le partage des recettes tirées des droits de propriété intellectuelle entre les entreprises et les universités et établissements de recherche publics. La politique d?innovation commence à mettre l'accent sur les synergies potentielles entre la promotion de la recherche scientifique et technologique, le soutien à la R-D et la compétitivité commerciale. Pour parvenir à stimuler l?innovation dans les entreprises, il faudra compléter ces politiques par des mesures destinées à remédier à la pénurie de qualifications dans la population active qui constitue l?un des principaux obstacles à l'innovation compte tenu notamment du retard de plus en plus sensible du Brésil vis-à-vis de la zone OCDE en matière d?enseignement supérieur.
    Keywords: human capital, productivity, productivité, capital humain, innovation, innovation
    JEL: H25 I23 O30
    Date: 2006–12–06
  12. By: Mariano Bosch
    Abstract: Recessions and policy interventions in labour markets in developing countries arecharacterized not only by changes in the unemployment rate, but also by changes in theproportion of formal or protected jobs. This reallocation between formal and informal jobs islarge and occurs mainly because the job finding rate of formal jobs reacts substantially morethan the job finding rate of informal jobs. This paper presents a search and matching model tocapture this fact. I assume that firms operate the within firm margin of formality, choosing tolegalize only those matches that are good enough to compensate the costs of formality. In thisframework, recessions or stricter regulations in the labour market trigger two effects. Asexpected, they lower the incentives to post vacancies (meeting effect), but also affect thefirms' hiring standards, favouring informal contracts (offer effect). This new channel shedslight on how the actions of policy makers alter the outcomes in an economy with informaljobs. For instance, attempts to protect employment by increasing .ring costs will reallocateworkers to informal jobs, where job separation is high. They are also likely to increaseunemployment.
    Keywords: Informal economy, search models, labour markets, regulations.
    JEL: J64 H26 O17
    Date: 2006–11
  13. By: Christian Hilber; Frédéric Robert-Nicoud
    Abstract: We model residential land use constraints as the outcome of a political economy game between owners of developed and owners of undeveloped land. Land use constraints are interpreted as shadow taxes that increase the land rent of already developed plots and reduce the amount of new housing developments. In general equilibrium, locations with nicer amenities are more developed and, as a consequence, more regulated. We test our model predictions by geographically matching amenity, land use, and historical Census data to metropolitan area level survey data on regulatory restrictiveness. Following the predictions of the model, we use amenities as instrumental variables and demonstrate that metropolitan areas with better amenities are more developed and more tightly regulated than other areas. Consistent with theory, metropolitan areas that are more regulated also grow more slowly.
    Keywords: Land use regulations, zoning, land ownership, housing supply
    JEL: H7 Q15 R52
    Date: 2006–11
  14. By: Gianni CARBONARO
    Abstract: The assessment of the technical, economic and financial quality of programmes and projects is one of the day-to-day activities at the European Investment Bank (EIB). The paper explains how this task is approached within the EIB, how some of the tools of cost-benefit analysis are employed, and how this approach may evolve during the forthcoming programming period of the Structural Instruments. Some of the recent initiatives of the EIB – in particular RAILPAG, the guidelines for project appraisal in the rail sector and JASPERS, Joint Assistance to Support Projects in European Regions - take a particular relevance in this context and are briefly explained
    Keywords: Cost-Benefit Analysis, Project evaluation, International Organizations
    JEL: D61 H43 O19
    Date: 2006–12

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