The moral hazard of devolution: applying fiscal federalism to the evolution of Northern Ireland’s public finances, 1920-1972

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


Northern Ireland is the first example of UK devolution, yet despite this apparent benefit, its economic performance continued to lag the rest of the UK between 1920 and 1972. By constructing an analytic narrative, which combines theory from fiscal federalism with new archival material and data, it demonstrates institutional structure affected the economic efficiency of fiscal decentralisation. Westminster was primarily concerned with limiting the moral hazard posed by Stormont, leading to conditions being imposed on fiscal transfers, which restricted the growth of public expenditure. This affected the level and composition of subnational public goods and services, with significant implications for Northern Ireland’s long-run economic performance.
Period18 May 2021
Event titleRoyal Economic Society Symposium of Junior Researchers 2021
Event typeConference
LocationUnited Kingdom
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Devolution
  • Northern Ireland
  • Fiscal federalism
  • Economy
  • Regional government
  • Regional economic performance