Swiss Research on Fiscal Federalism

The Project

Switzerland offers a unique laboratory for the study of fiscal federalism. The experience of the Swiss Confederation since 1848 can be seen as a real-world large-scale experiment. While the empirical public finance and political economics literatures have exploited Swiss data with considerable success for some time and produced evidence that has proven to be of interest far beyond the national context, the Swiss laboratory in its full time-series and spatial dimensions has as yet remained largely unexploited due to a lack of available data.

Aiming to harness the latent potential offered by the analysis of Swiss sub-federal data, we have put together a research network consisting of four “hubs” at the Universities of Lausanne, Basel, St.Gallen, and Lugano. This network is financed with two successive three-year grants under the Swiss National Science Foundation’s Sinergia program, covering the period 2010 to 2016.

Our network has three central aims:

First, we are assembling the most comprehensive longitudinal dataset on fiscal and political decentralization in Switzerland to date, pulling together archival and registry data for cantons and municipalities. In our data section you can find first data for download and further information about the ongoing data collection process.

Second, we strive to produce a number of high-level scientific papers, building on the longitudinal dataset and on complementary data resources compiled within the project. The common denominator linking our various research projects is to analyze issues in public finance and political economics affecting federations. In addition to targeting publications in international peer-reviewed journals, we aim to contribute actively to Swiss public debate via blogs and the media.

Third, we provide research and research-management experience for a number of doctoral and post-doctoral researchers as well as for student assistants. Where possible, we seek to involve junior researchers as equal partners, allowing them to deserve coauthorship.

Project description at the Swiss National Science Foundation:
Phase 1, Sinergia/130648
Phase 2, Sinergia/147668