This paper deals with the problems encountered in defining and measuring the degree of fiscal decentralization. Drawing on a recent analytical framework of the OECD, different measures of fiscal autonomy and revenue decentralization are presented which consider tax-raising powers of sub-central governments. Taking account of changes in the assignment of decision-making competencies in the course of time, new time series of annual data on the degree of fiscal decentralization are provided for 23 OECD countries in the time period between 1965 and 2001. It is shown that common measures usually employed tend to considerably overestimate the extent of fiscal decentralization. Evidence is also provided for increasing fiscal decentralization in a majority of OECD countries during the last three decades.
Stegarescu, Dan (2004), Public Sector Decentralization: Measurement Concepts and Recent International Trends, ZEW Discussion Paper No. 04-74, Mannheim. Download