Strength in diversity? Fiscal federalism among the fifty US states

Teresa Garcia-Milà, Therese J. McGuire*, Wallace E. Oates

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


Fiscal federalism in the USA has a distinctive structure that contrasts sharply with that in most other industrialized nations. Our purpose in this paper is to describe and explore the US “brand” of fiscal federalism. We demonstrate that there is a striking amount of variety in the 50 state fiscal systems and that these differences have prevailed in the face of potentially disruptive forces. The variety we find stems in large part from states having meaningful fiscal autonomy, in particular, the authority to levy taxes. The result is likely higher societal welfare than would ensue without this autonomy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1071-1091
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Tax and Public Finance
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2018



  • 50 US states
  • Fiscal federalism
  • Subnational fiscal autonomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Economics and Econometrics

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