Tax Decentralization, Preferences for Redistribution, and Regional Identities

55 Pages Posted: 28 Mar 2024

See all articles by Dirk Foremny

Dirk Foremny

University of Barcelona (Department of Economics); Institut d'Economia de Barcelona; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Date Written: February 27, 2024


This paper provides novel evidence on the impact of tax decentralization on citizens' preferences for redistribution. The study leverages results from a large-scale survey experiment implemented in Spain. The experimental design is based on an information treatment which explains the normative power of regional governments in personal income taxation, a feature mostly unknown at baseline. First-stage results show that the treatment increases the salience of this characteristic by 40 percentage points. The treatment increases respondents' aversion against inequality but decreases their support for higher taxes on the rich. Both results are explained by the idiosyncratic identities of respondents. The effect on inequality is driven by individuals with a stronger regional than national identity, while the rejection of higher taxes on the rich is driven by participants which identify more with the nation than the region. Heterogeneous effects on trust in central or regional governments confirm this pattern. These results shed light on the role of identity in shaping preferences for redistribution and provide novel evidence that redistributive policies work as a local public good when local attachment of citizens is large.

Keywords: Preferences for redistribution, taxation, survey experiment, fiscal federalism, decentralization

JEL Classification: H22, H26, D83, D31, C9

Suggested Citation

Foremny, Dirk, Tax Decentralization, Preferences for Redistribution, and Regional Identities (February 27, 2024). Available at SSRN: or

Dirk Foremny (Contact Author)

University of Barcelona (Department of Economics) ( email )

c/ John M. Keynes, 1-11
Barcelona, 08034

Institut d'Economia de Barcelona


CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics