IACFS Conference at Bilbao, 27-29 October 2022 call for papers – Fiscal federalism and territorial inequalities

IACFS Conference at Bilbao, 27-29 October 2022 call for papers

Fiscal federalism and territorial inequalities


Two deep economic crises have caused a great impact on public finances during the first two decades of the XXIst century. On the one hand, 2008 financial crisis exercised anintense pressure on public accounts and led to an increase in public debtacross federations, with a specific impact on subnational governments, that are usually responsible for providing public basic services and managing welfare policies, such as healthcare or education. On the other hand, with the 2008 crisis still latent, COVID-19 pandemic hit for the second time governments financial sustainability.

Once the initial impact of the COVID-19 crisis has been overcome, recovery of long-term fiscal sustainability and public debt management will be one of the main challenges that must be addressed by the public managers in coming years. In the systems of fiscal federalism, the post-crisis management of public finances and debt also affects subnational governments.

Both crises, together with globalisation and technological change, also constitute the main drivers of territorial inequalities. This is precisely one of the main concerns of federalism. In fact, federal institutional frameworks allow for diversity and asymmetries to respond to local preferences and needs, while preserving unity and ensuring constitutionally defined equity levels. Furthermore, one of the most characteristic federal instruments, fiscal equalisation, aims to allow subnational jurisdictions to provide a similar level of public services disregards differences on their fiscal capacity.

Consequently, the 2022 IACFS congress will focus on how both crises affected multilevel governance models and the institutional dynamics of federal and decentralised countries, on how do federations address territorial inequalities, and on the future management of subnational public finances. We invite participants to submit proposals on these topics, from a case-study or comparative perspectives. Both research and policy proposals are welcomed in order to contribute to the discussion on the future of federalism.


Contributions will be structured over three main topics:

Subnational public finances and multilevel fiscal governance:

  • How did financial and pandemic crises affectsubnational public finances?
  • Did subnational governments suffer the fiscal shock, or was it absorbed by federal/central governments?
  • How will subnational funding systems look like beyond both crises? Is there a trend towards (de)increased transfer-dependency? Will grantearmarking gain relevance?
  • Which are the pending challenges of fiscal rules? How can multilevel fiscal governance be improved?
  • Trends towards decentralization and re-centralization: centrifugal and centripetal tensions in federations

Territorial inequalities and equalisation systems:

  • Should fiscal equalisation and regional policy get intertwined?
  • The equity-efficiency trade-off: where is the optimal equilibrium between solidarity and autonomy? The boundaries of tax competition and harmonization.
  • Can federal constitutional frameworks be used to tackle inequalities?
  • The political economy of fiscal equalisation: aligning the policy agenda of federal/central government, net recipient and net contributor jurisdictions.


  • The future of federalism beyond COVID-19.
  • Has institutional normality been recovered after the impact of COVID-19?
  • How did subnational governments adapt to the new post-crisis context?
  • After the COVID-19 crisis, are structural reforms planned in the federal system?


The paper proposals will be sent to ituna@ehu.eus no later than 31 May 2022.

The organizer committee of the 2022 IACFS Congress : Jon Garro, Xabier Murua, Mikel Erkoreka, Andoni Montes

315, rue Sainte-Catherine Est
Montréal, QC H2X 3X2

514 987-3000 poste 1609

Lundi au vendredi : 8h à 17h

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