Rules vs. political discretion: evidence from constitutionally guaranteed transfers to local governments in Brazil
Can rules be used to shield public resources from political interference? The Brazilian constitution and national tax code stipulate that revenue sharing transfers to municipal governments be determined by the size of counties in terms of estimated population. In this paper I document that the population estimates which went into the transfer allocation formula for the year 1991 were manipulated, resulting in significant transfer differentials over the entire 1990’s. I test whether conditional on county characteristics that might account for the manipulation, center-local party alignment, party popularity and the extent of interparty fragmentation at the county level are correlated with estimated populations in 1991. Results suggest that revenue sharing transfers were targeted at right-wing national deputies in electorally fragmented counties as well as aligned local executives.
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