Baskaran, Thushyanthan Blesse, Sebastian Brender, Adi Reingewertz, Yaniv
ZEW Discussion Papers 15-046
This paper examines whether revenue decentralization and direct external financial supervision affect the incidence and strength of political budget cycles, using a panel of Israeli municipalities during the period 1999-2009. We find that high dependence on central government transfers - as reflected in a low share of locally raised revenues in the municipality's budget - exacerbates political budget cycles, while tight monitoring - exercised through central government appointment of external accountants to debt accumulating municipalities - eliminates them. These results suggest that political budget cycles can result from fiscal institutions that create soft budget constraints: that is, where incumbents and rational voters can expect that the costs of pre-election expansions will be partly covered later by the central government.
political budget cycles soft budget constraint local governments decentralization