Intergovernmental Transfers and Expenditure Arrears
54 Pages Posted: 10 Nov 2016
Date Written: July 21, 2016
Local governments may increase expenditure arrears to relax the financial constraints induced by intergovernmental transfer cuts. We assess this hypothesis using information from accounting and financial reports from Italian municipalities for the period 2003-2010. By exploiting the long-lasting effect of the 1977-1978 structural reform of Italian local public finance, we employ an instrumental variable approach to address endogeneity concerns. We find robust empirical evidence that the lower the intergovernmental grants, the larger the use of arrears in public investment expenditures by municipalities. We argue that, when local governments are not subject to effective controls on the formation of arrears but fiscal rules impose binding budget constraints, a cut in intergovernmental transfers can partially diminish the effectiveness of fiscal consolidation at local level.
Keywords: local public finance, fiscal consolidation, fiscal rules, instrumental variables
JEL Classification: H30, H72, H77, C33, C36
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