Centralisation of political decision making often fails to produce the desired results. For instance, it is frequently argued that decision making within the European Union results in overspending and overregulation in some policy areas, while too low spending and too little regulation prevails in other policy areas. In this paper, we study a model in which delegates from jurisdictions bargain over the amounts of public goods provided by jurisdictions. Following Besley and Coate (2000) we show that local policy makers have an incentive to delegate bargaining to 'public good lovers' if all the cost of public goods are shared through a common budget. Consequently, overprovision of public goods results. If a sufficiently large part of the cost of public goods can not be shared among regions, underprovision of public goods persists under centralised decision making because local policy makers delegate bargaining to 'conservatives'. Underprovision is strongest when spillover effects are moderate: both in the absence of spillover effects and in the case of global public goods, centralised decision making produces the social optimum. Finally, we study financing rules that may help to avoid strategic delegation by local policy makers.

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Tinbergen Institute Discussion Paper Series
Tinbergen Institute

Dur, A.J, & Roelfsema, H.J. (2002). Why does Centralisation fail to internalise Policy Externalities? (No. TI 02-056/3). Tinbergen Institute Discussion Paper Series. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1765/6807