A number of recent studies have concluded that differing local government tax and expenditure packages necessarily create incentives for households to locate in a non-optimal fashion. This paper shows, on the contrary, that the locational equilibrium may be optimal. For example, if migration produces no congestion costs, then as long as localities tax the locationally-fixed commodity, land, the equilibrium will be optimal. In fact, there are only two reasons why non-optimality may result: local taxes may be distortionary (by taxing the mobile rather than immobile factor), or there may be non-internalized externalities.

David E. Wildasin / dew@davidwildasin.us