Date of Award

Fall 12-14-2011

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Economics

First Advisor

Jorge L. Martinez-Vazquez

Second Advisor

Roy W. Bahl

Third Advisor

Klara Sabirianova Peter

Fourth Advisor

Jean E. Tesche

Abstract

Due to widespread decentralization of spending responsibilities, increasing revenue power and borrowing capacity of sub-national governments, sub-national borrowing has become an increasingly important source of sub-national finance. While there are arguments for and against giving sub-national authorities room for raising their own financial resources, appropriate sub-national borrowing regulatory framework can reduce chances of defaults and fiscal crises.

This dissertation investigates the effectiveness of sub-national borrowing regulations in maintaining fiscal sustainability. More precisely, it tests the hypothesis that is sub-national borrowing is restricted to financing capital investments (the “golden rule”), and if the sub-national governments are provided with some measure of revenue autonomy, then the sub-national borrowing should not endanger fiscal sustainability. Based on the sub-national government panel data for 57 countries between 1990 and 2008 and applying the system GMM estimator and the survival analysis, this dissertation provides support for this hypothesis.

The results suggest that the “golden rule” is effective in maintaining fiscal sustainability at both general and sub-national government level. Sub-national tax autonomy, however, seems to have positive but very small marginal effect on fiscal sustainability. The obtained results also emphasize the risk of the soft budget constraint and the moral hazard. Significant central government financing may give encouraging signs to the sub-national governments to over-borrow and to expect being bailed out by the central government. The results obtained in this dissertation imply following policy recommendations. First, sub-national government borrowing does not have to endanger fiscal sustainability if the borrowing regulation framework is well designed and according to specific country circumstances. Second, reducing fiscal dependence on central government financing reduces the risk of moral hazard and improves the effectiveness of borrowing control in maintaining fiscal balance at the sustainable level.

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