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Budget Deficits, Stochastic Population Size and Consumption

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  • Becker, Torbjörn

    (Department of Economics)

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    Abstract

    This paper analyzes the effects on present consumption of budget deficits under different assumptions regarding demographics. In the first part, birth and death rates are deterministic, and in the second part, birth rates are assumed to be stochastic. In the case of a deterministic population size, an increase in public debt raises present consumption, if the (deterministic) birth rate is greater than zero, while with a zero birth rate we obtain debt neutrality. This is consistent with the results in Blanchard [1985] and Buiter [1988]. However, for the case of stochastic birth rates, it is shown that we can obtain the result that present consumption will decrease when public debt is increased, both when we have a zero expected birth rate, and when the expected population size is assumed to be constant, so that the expected birth rate is positive and equal to the death rate. The explanation is that with an uncertain birth rate, the future tax base is uncertain, which makes per capita taxes uncertain in the future. Shifting taxes to the future thus implies greater uncertainty about future net income, and induces precautionary savings.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Stockholm School of Economics in its series Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance with number 75.

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    Length: 26 pages
    Date of creation: Oct 1995
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:hhs:hastef:0075

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    Related research

    Keywords: Tax base uncertainty; Ricardian equivalence; precautionary savings; demographics;

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    References

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    1. Zeldes, Stephen P, 1989. "Optimal Consumption with Stochastic Income: Deviations from Certainty Equivalence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 104(2), pages 275-98, May.
    2. Ormiston, Michael B. & Schlee, Edward E., 1992. "Necessary conditions for comparative statics under uncertainty," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 40(4), pages 429-434, December.
    3. Weil, Philippe, 1987. "Love thy children : Reflections on the Barro debt neutrality theorem," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 377-391, May.
    4. Joseph E. Stiglitz, 1968. "The Effects of Income, Wealth, and Capital Gains Taxation on Risk Taking," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 248, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    5. Barsky, Robert B & Mankiw, N Gregory & Zeldes, Stephen P, 1986. "Ricardian Consumers with Keynesian Propensities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 676-91, September.
    6. Caballero, Ricardo J., 1990. "Consumption puzzles and precautionary savings," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 113-136, January.
    7. Buiter, Willem H, 1988. "Death, Birth, Productivity Growth and Debt Neutrality," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 98(391), pages 279-93, June.
    8. Miles S. Kimball, 1989. "Precautionary Saving in the Small and in the Large," NBER Working Papers 2848, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Weil, Philippe, 1989. "Overlapping families of infinitely-lived agents," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 183-198, March.
    10. Smith, Alasdair, 1982. "Intergenerational transfers as social insurance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 97-106, October.
    11. Blanchard, Olivier J, 1985. "Debt, Deficits, and Finite Horizons," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(2), pages 223-47, April.
    12. Barro, Robert J., 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Scholarly Articles 3451399, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    13. Sandmo, Agnar, 1970. "The Effect of Uncertainty on Saving Decisions," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 37(3), pages 353-60, July.
    14. Becker, Torbjörn, 1995. "Budget Deficits, Tax Risk and Consumption," Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 74, Stockholm School of Economics.
    15. Varian, Hal R., 1980. "Redistributive taxation as social insurance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 49-68, August.
    16. Willem H. Buiter, 1990. "Principles of Budgetary and Financial Policy," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262524139, January.
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