OECD Working Papers on Fiscal Federalism

This series covers issues related to intergovernmental fiscal relations and local/regional public finance, such as: tax and spending assignment across government levels; intergovernmental grants; fiscal equalization; local and regional public service efficiency; inter-jurisdictional tax competition; and macroeconomic issues such as intergovernmental fiscal management and sub-central fiscal rules. Many of these working papers are outputs of the OECD Network on Fiscal Relations Across Levels of Government. Related working papers on fiscal federalism issues are also published in other OECD working paper series on tax policy, economics, public governance and regional development. An integrated list of key papers produced by the Fiscal Network can be found at http://oe.cd/fiscalnetwork.

(Note: numbers 1, 6 and 8 are available in the OECD Economics Department Working Papers, as numbers 465, 626 and 705.)


Assigning responsibilities across levels of government

Trends, challenges and guidelines for policy-makers

The past decades have seen an undeniable trend towards decentralisation and greater diversity of multilevel governance arrangements around the world. Decentralisation outcomes depend on the way decentralisation is designed and implemented. A key issue for the effectiveness of decentralisation is linked to the way responsibilities are assigned across levels of government. The literature on fiscal federalism has provided some general guidelines that provide a point of departure for thinking about the assignment of responsibilities. However, when looking at country practices, the difference between theory and country experience appears to be significant. This paper reviews the trends, challenges and good practices in the way responsibilities are distributed across levels of government. It concludes with a set of guidelines for policy-makers, to better assign responsibilities across levels of government for more effective decentralisation.


Keywords: Public economics, regional economics, governance, intergovernmental relations
JEL: H7: Public Economics / State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations
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