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FSD1192 Finnish Local Government Strategies for Cutting Expenditure 1998

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Authors

  • Ståhlberg, Krister (Åbo Akademi University. Institute for Comparative Nordic Politics and Administration)
  • Kettunen, Pekka (Åbo Akademi University. Institute for Comparative Nordic Politics and Administration)

Keywords

central government, economic policy, economic recession, local finance, local government, local government spending, outsourcing, privatization, public services

Abstract

The data have been collected as part of a research programme studying municipal priorities, financed by the Swedish Association of Local Authorities (Svenska kommunförbundet). The programme compared the strategies used by Finnish and Swedish municipalities to cope with the economic recession in the 1990s.

In the survey, municipal managers were asked to compare their municipality's financial difficulties to that of other municipalities. Respondents evaluated how successful the strategies and policies adopted by their municipality had been. The nature of the problems, and main obstacles in overcoming them were charted. The questionnaire listed a large number of strategies for cutting expenditure, and respondents were asked to indicate to what degree the municipality had used these strategies. Strategies listed included, among others, tax rises, higher fees for services, borrowing, delaying investments, job cuts, changes in the employment terms and conditions of municipal staff, local bargaining, service cuts, outsourcing, changes in decision-making systems, increased co-operation between different sectors and municipalities, competitive tendering, restructuring. The survey also studied the ways in which municipalities sought to gain the support of residents for these strategies and agreed priorities.

One topic pertained to how much central government policy changes (e.g. in taxation policy, regulations concerning local government service production, state subsidies) affected municipal finances. Respondents were asked about the impact of the cuts and other recovery measures on municipal administration, care of the elderly, social services, education, health care, cultural services, housing, maintenance, technical services and environment. Respondents compared the situation in their municipality to that of other municipalities as regards the opposition offered by residents, the degree of public support gained for the adopted measures, and the ease or difficulty of making rationalisation decisions.

The data contain one background variable: the name of the municipality.

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