Redistribution is typically viewed as a task of the central government. However, in most federal countries local governments do have some discretion in redistribution policy. The main theoretical argument for this is that redistribution may be a local public good (Pauly 1973). Using data on Flemish municipalities, we present a first empirical test of Pauly’s assumption. We find that the willingness to redistribute is negatively affected by the geographical dimension of the responsible government. We extend the notion of distance, considering also sociological, cultural, income and political distances between donors and recipients. We find that, with the exception of income, these are relevant determinants of welfare policy, though they do not always have the predicted effect.
Ashworth, J., Heyndels, B., &Smolders, C. (2002). Redistribution as a local public good: an empirical test for Flemish municipalities. Kyklos, 55(1), 27-56.