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Consommation privée et endettement public en Italie et en Belgique : existe-t-il une relation stable ?


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  • Giuseppe Nicoletti


[eng] According to the « Ricardian equivalence » hypothesis, when making their current spending and saving decisions, consumers take into account the taxes they will have to pay in the future, notably to service the existing stock of public debt : in other words, there is « tax-discounting ». In this case, the way in which public spending is financed has no influence on current economic activity : national saving, the sum of private and public savings — the latter being the budget surplus — , is not affected by the magnitude of the budget deficit. This paper proposes an empirical test of this hypothesis for two countries — Italy and Belgium — in which there have been prolonged periods of large budget deficits and where the stocks of public debt reached very high levels by the end of the 80s. Our results suggest that, when a positive correlation between the budget deficit and private saving can be found, it is associated with the process of short-run adjustment of current consumption to its equilibrium level. Moreover, the relationship between public deficit and debt, on the one hand, and private consumption on the other does not seem to be stable in time : the results obtained on Belgian data show that only large changes in the financing of public expenditures induce variations in the measured « tax-discounting » effect. Only when public financial policies generate a dynamically unstable path for public debt — i.e. when these policies clearly become unsustainable — can an important Ricardian effect be identified. [fre] Selon l'hypothèse dite de l'« équivalence ricardienne », les consommateurs tiennent compte, dans leurs décisions présentes de consommation et d'épargne, des impôts qu'ils devront acquitter dans le futur, notamment pour assurer le service de la dette publique actuelle — on parle alors d'« actualisation de l'impôt » ; dès lors, le mode de financement des dépenses publiques est sans conséquences quant à l'activité éco

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Article provided by Presses de Sciences-Po in its journal Revue de l'OFCE.

Volume (Year): n° 37 (1991)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 79-121

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Handle: RePEc:cai:reofsp:reof_p1991_37n1_0079

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