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The decentralization of Social Assistance and the rise of Disability Insurance enrolment

CPB Discussion Paper 185, 22 July 2011

In this paper, we assess spillover effects of Social Assistance (SA) decentralization in the Netherlands, in particular towards (a centrally administered) Disability Insurance scheme (DI). DI enrolment has increased strongly since the decentralization of SA.

Many economists and policymakers believe that fiscal decentralization, the decentralization of government expenditures to local governments, enhances public sector efficiency. Vertical externalities – i.e. spillovers between local and central government – may however undo part of this advantage. In this paper, we assess spillover effects of Social Assistance (SA) decentralization in the Netherlands, in particular towards (a centrally administered) Disability Insurance scheme (DI). DI enrolment strongly increased since the decentralization of SA. We find that the sensitivity of local DI enrolment with respect to the stock of local SA recipients has increased over time, given that we control for both observed and unobserved disability risk factors. IV estimates show that, since the decentralization of SA, at least one third of DI inflow was diverted from SA.

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