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Hamilton's Paradox
The Promise and Peril of Fiscal Federalism

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Part of Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics

  • Date Published: December 2005
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521603669

$ 37.99 (P)

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About the Authors
  • As new federations take shape and old ones are revived around the world, a difficult challenge is to create incentives for fiscal discipline. A key question is whether a politically-motivated central government can credibly commit not to bail out subnational governments in times of crisis if it funds most of their expenditures. By combining theory, quantitative analysis, and historical and contemporary case studies, this book provides a new perspective on why different countries have had dramatically different experiences with subnational fiscal discipline.

    •  Was the first major monograph on a policy problem of growing importance around the world - fiscal discipline among subnational governments
    •  Carefully combines theory, quantitative analysis, and historical and contemporary case studies
    •  Analyzes diverse cases from the eighteenth century to the present in a common framework
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    • Winner of the Gregory Luebbert Award - Comparative Politics Section of the American Political Science Association

    Reviews & endorsements

    "This timely book takes on a crucial topic for scholars and practitioners-especially in newly democratizing societies that are walking the potentially dangerous and complex road towards decentralization. It departs from what was becoming conventional wisdom, and develops a more critical and agnostic approach to federalism and decentralization than its predecessors. Roddenas arguments emerge from comparative politics, game theory, and modern macroeconomics, and his empirical approach combines subtlety and breadth by mixing quantitative and qualitative analyses, ranging from cross-country regressions to rich treatments of complex historical cases.(continued underneath)

    Especially appealing is the fact that his country specialization is thematic and comparative rather than regional. Hamilton's Paradox will become a must-read for economists, political scientists, and other analysis interested in federalism, fiscal policy, and institutional development more generally, and it sets the agenda for future research in the field." Mariano Tommasi, Universidad de San Andrés

    "This is a landmark book on fiscal federalism and one that will be influential both in policy circles and in the academy for many years to come." Mark Hallerberg, Emory University

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    Product details

    • Date Published: December 2005
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521603669
    • length: 336 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 150 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.44kg
    • contains: 22 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction and overview
    2. Promise and peril: intellectual history
    3. Sovereignty and commitment
    4. The power of the purse: intergovernmental grants and fiscal discipline
    5. Disease or cure? Political parties and fiscal discipline
    6. An approach to comparative case studies
    7. Fiscal federalism and bailouts in postwar Germany
    8. The crisis of fiscal federalism in Brazil
    9. The challenge of reform in federations
    10. The origins of subnational sovereignty
    11. Conclusions.

  • Author

    Jonathan A. Rodden, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Jonathan Rodden is the Ford Career Development Associate Professor of Political Science at MIT, and was recently a visiting scholar at the Center for Basic Research in the Social Sciences at Harvard University. He received his Ph.D. in political science from Yale University, his B.A. from the University of Michigan, and was a Fulbright Fellow at the University of Leipzig. In collaboration with the World Bank, he recently co-edited a book entitled Fiscal Decentralization and the Challenge of Hard Budget Constraints (MIT Press 2003). His articles have appeared in journals including The American Journal of Political Science, The British Journal of Political Science, Comparative Politics, International Organization, The Virginia Law Review, and World Politics.


    • Winner of the Gregory Luebbert Award - Comparative Politics Section of the American Political Science Association

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