Measurement, Determinants and Effects on Country Stability
Edited by Núria Bosch, Marta Espasa and Albert Solé Ollé
François Vaillancourt* These comments are organized along the lines of the issues raised in our chapter in this volume. We first use a set of three comparative tables to present the key methodological choices of the three chapters and we discuss them in turn. We then turn to more general issues: THE METHODOLOGICAL CHOICES We address six methodological choices regrouped in three tables: Table C3.1 covers general methodology, and temporal geographic coverage, Table C3.2 expenditures allocation and revenues allocation, and Table C3.3 treatment of debt and interest and treatment of current surplus or deficit. General Methodology, Temporal and Geographic Coverage There are three possible methodological choices: the cash flow approach, the fiscal incidence approach and the economics gains approach. In Vaillancourt (this volume) we argue that the proper approach is the fiscal incidence approach. Why? Because the purpose of these exercises is to examine if residents in a region are receiving a reasonable amount of publicly provided goods and services given what they pay in the central budget. The economic gain approach implicitly assumes that there are no national public goods. Hence the value of the services of the national parliament accrues only to the region where it is located (the capital). This is incorrect. Only the Canadian study excludes parts of the country. This makes sense in that these territories are very different from the provinces and heavily dependent on federal expenditures. But it is preferable to include the whole country, including special regions as in the case...
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