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Session Overview
C06: State and Local Public Finance
Wednesday, 18/Aug/2021:
2:15pm - 3:45pm

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2:15pm - 2:37pm

Voting with your feet? Socioeconomic Sorting in the Aftermath of Regional Autonomy

Vera M. Eichenauer1, Michaël Aklin2

1ETH Zurich, Switzerland; 2University of Pittsburgh

Regional autonomy is in high demand as recent events in Catalonia, Scotland, Kashmir, or in the Kurdish territories illustrate. But what happens once political autonomy is granted? Rigorous evidence on the consequences of autonomy is scarce. We study the population dynamics following seperation. Our model endogenizes the structure of the population living in the new jurisdictions and suggests two mechanisms. We test the predictions using the case of the internal secession of the historic Jura region in Switzerland, part of which voted for and was allowed to leave the Canton of Bern to create the Canton of Jura in 1978. Jura's far-reaching political autonomy led to population sorting according to salient social characteristics. Our results on the mechanisms provide evidence that rather than pocketbook considerations it is cultural identity, which shapes public policy preferences, that underlies population sorting.

Eichenauer-Voting with your feet Socioeconomic Sorting in the Aftermath-449.pdf

2:37pm - 3:00pm

Land Scarcity and Urban Density within Cities

Melanie Krause1, André Seidel2

1University of Hamburg, Germany; 2University of Bergen, Norway

This paper studies how limitations on land for development affect within-city variation in urban density. We argue that land scarcity increases urban density on similar types of land, for example, on those with the same distance to the city center or the same average hours of sunshine. To test this hypothesis, we use within-city geographical obstacles as exogenous sources of scarcity of certain land types. We show that scarcer land types have higher urban density, which arises mostly from taller buildings and less from more crowding or residential coverage. Importantly, the effect operates through the heterogeneous citywide supply of different land types rather than preferences for local geography. Our findings reveal a potentially significant effect that local regulations can have on the heterogeneity of city-wide urban density.

Krause-Land Scarcity and Urban Density within Cities-181.pdf

3:00pm - 3:22pm

Fiscal Consequences of Municipal Mergers

Luisa Doerr

ifo Institute, Germany

The overarching goal of municipal territorial reform is to realize economies of scale. At the same time, fiscal equalization schemes often grant disproportionately higher grants to large municipalities. Little is known about the consequences of encompassing territorial reforms on fiscal equalization transfers. I examine this question using the German state of Saxony, where the number of municipalities decreased by 74% from 1.614 in 1992 to 419 in 2019. I use generalized difference-in-difference and event study estimations to identify how mergers affect fiscal transfers in particular and the local budget in general. The results confirm a large and persistent redistribution of fiscal transfers after territorial reforms: merging municipalities gain up to €27 p.c. in yearly transfers, an effect that amounts to 11% of the mean transfer in the sample. With the exception of administrative expenditures, municipal spending did not change systematically after mergers.

Doerr-Fiscal Consequences of Municipal Mergers-374.pdf

3:22pm - 3:45pm

State Business Income Taxes and Business Dynamism

Thomas Brosy

University of Michigan, United States of America

Business dynamism has been linked to innovation and employment creation, yet there is little empirical research on the relationship between business taxation and business operations births and deaths. Using county-level panel data and a state border identification strategy, I document a negative effect of state corporate tax rates on establishment birth rate: an increase in the top state corporate tax rate of 1 percentage point leads to a decline in the birth rate of about 1.5-2%. The effect on exits is also negative but smaller in magnitude with a net-of-tax rate elasticity around 1. Using data at the census tract level, I show that spillovers are unlikely to be driving the main results, but can be large in areas close to the border - within 3 to 5 miles. These findings are robust to changes in other state level policies and sample restrictions.

Brosy-State Business Income Taxes and Business Dynamism-497.pdf

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