Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics
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Department of Economics, Lund University Working Papers, Department of Economics, Lund University

No 2012:24:
Assist or Desist? Conditional Bailouts and Fiscal Discipline in Local Governments

Jens Dietrichson () and Lina Maria Ellegård ()

Abstract: Central government bailouts of local governments are commonly viewed as a recipe for local fiscal indiscipline, as local governments learn that the center will come to the rescue in times of trouble. However, little is known about the consequences of bailouts granted conditional on local governments first making efforts to improve the situation. We examine a case in which the Swedish central government provided conditional grants to 36 financially troubled municipalities. We use the synthetic control method to identify suitable comparison units for each of the 36 municipalities. To compare the development of costs and the fiscal surplus of admitted municipalities to that of their most similar counterparts during the decade after the program, we then estimate fixed effects regressions on the resulting sample. The analysis suggests that conditional bailouts did not erode, and may even had induced greater fiscal discipline.

Keywords: Bailouts; local governments; fiscal performance; synthetic control method; (follow links to similar papers)

JEL-Codes: D23; H61; H62; H72; H77; (follow links to similar papers)

38 pages, September 20, 2012, Revised February 12, 2015

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This paper is published as:
Dietrichson, Jens and Lina Maria Ellegård, (2015), 'Assist or Desist? Conditional Bailouts and Fiscal Discipline in Local Governments', European Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 22, pages 153-168

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