The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
Empirical studies of the effects of intergovernmental grants to localities do not support standard microeconomic predictions. Block grants have surprisingly large positive effects on public expenditures. Researchers have attributed this “flypaper effect” to imperfect information (fiscal illusion), bureaucratic self-interest (Leviathan motives), and flawed econometrics. In this paper, a three-sector, computable general equilibrium model of a local economy is used to explore the effects of block grants and matching grants. The paper demonstrates that without fiscal illusion or unresponsive bureaucrats, these grants can have large spending consequences. Fiscal adjustments, mobility, and capitalization effects explain the leveraged impact of intergovernmental grants.