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Explaining Fiscal Balances with a Simultaneous Equation Model of Revenue and Expenditure : A Case Study of Swiss Cantons Using Panel Data
Public Budgeting and Finance
Empirical literature on the analysis of the efficiency of measures for reducing persistent government deficits has mainly focused on the direct explanation of deficit. By contrast, this paper aims at modeling government revenue and expenditure within a simultaneous framework and deriving the fiscal balance (surplus or deficit) equation as the difference between the two variables. This setting enables one to not only judge how relevant the explanatory variables are in explaining the fiscal balance but also understand their impact on revenue and/or expenditure. Our empirical results, obtained by using a panel data set on Swiss Cantons for the period 1980-2002, confirm the relevance of the approach followed here, by providing unambiguous evidence of a simultaneous relationship between revenue and expenditure. They also reveal strong dynamic components in revenue, expenditure, and fiscal balance. Among the significant determinants of public fiscal balance we not only find the usual business cycle elements, but also and more importantly institutional factors such as the number of administrative units, and the ease with which people can resort to political (direct democracy) instruments, such as public initiatives and referendum.
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