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Do Nasty and Pleasant Surprises Regarding Tax Revenue Explain Spending Drifts ? : The Case of the Swiss Cantons
International Journal of Public Administration
This article aims to explain the difference between the expenditure reported in governmental end-of-the-year budgets and the amounts previously forecasted in the approved beginning-of-the-year budgets. We measure how political, financial, and institutional variables affect this spending drift. We focus on two much-debated factors, namely, tax revenue budgeting errors and the stringency of fiscal rules. Our econometric approach uses a panel based on the 26 Swiss cantons covering the period of 1980 to 2011. Results suggest that stringent fiscal rules discourage budget overruns, whereas underestimating tax revenue-i.e., a budgetary "pleasant surprise"-offers the opportunity for some overspending.
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