Land rents, optimal taxation and local fiscal independence in an economy with local public goods

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A general equilibrium model of an economy with cities, farms and free migration of population is constructed. The cities produce internationally traded goods via production functions subject to economies of scale. They also produce housing and a local public good. Two areas are defined to be disjoint if households performing an economic activity in one area are not operating in the other. An area is exclusive if it is disjoint to its complement. The economic surplus of an area is then defined to be the value of the area's net export of goods and resources. Local efficiency of an area is defined to be a state in which its economic surplus attains its maximum value. This state is proved to be a necessary condition for Pareto optimality of the economy. It is then proved that beside Piguvian corrective taxes the only taxes necessary and sufficient to finance local government activities efficiently, are taxes on land rents. Furthermore, if jurisdiction of a local government is over an exclusive area no intervention of central government is necessary, and local authorities can be fully autonomous. If the economy can be divided into pairwise disjointed exclusive areas, those areas are optimal jurisdictions in the sense that efficiency in the economy can be achieved with local authorities only.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-85
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Public Economics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1981

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Finance
  • Economics and Econometrics


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