Is Fiscal Decentralization Harmful for Economic Growth? Evidence from the OECD Countries
The global drive towards decentralization has been increasingly justified on the basis that greater transfers of resources to subnational governments are expected to deliver greater efficiency in the provision of public goods and services and greater economic growth. This paper examines whether this is the case, by analysing the relationship between decentralization and economic growth in 21 OECD countries during the period between 1990 and 2005 and controlling not only for fiscal decentralization, but also for political and administrative decentralization. The results point towards a negative and significant association between fiscal decentralization and economic growth in the sample countries, a relationship which is robust to the inclusion of a series of control variables and to differences in expenditure preferences by subnational governments. The impact of political and administrative decentralization on economic growth is weaker and sensitive to the definition and measurement of political decentralization.
May 2010 Paper Number SERCDP0051