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Using a panel of 268 European regions during 1990&-2014, we document that the degree of local government's autonomy, measured with the Local Autonomy Index, has a significant positive effect on the fiscal spending multiplier. The estimated geographic cross-sectional fiscal spending multiplier is on average close to zero in countries with the lowest degree of local autonomy, and around unity in countries with the highest degree of local autonomy. Multipliers are state-dependent: larger when gross domestic product is below trend and when there is slack in the labor market; in those states, local autonomy has a particularly large positive effect on the multiplier. To interpret the empirical findings, we build a Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium (DSGE) model where both local and central government spending contribute to a public good that enhances private labor productivity. Local governments are more efficient in producing the public good and the multiplier is higher in countries where local government spending has a larger share in the production of the public good.
fiscal decentralization; government spending multipliers; local autonomy index; new keynesian model of a monetary union