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Generational Accounts, Aggregate Saving and Intergenerational Distribution

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  • Willem H. Buiter

Abstract

Are generational accounts informative about the effect of the budget on the intergenerational distribution of resources and (when augmented with generation-specific propensities to consume out of life-time resources) on aggregate consumption and saving? The paper makes three points. First, the usefulness of generational accounts lives or dies with the strict life-cycle model of household consumption. Voluntary intergenerational gifts or liquidity constraints may therefore adversely affect or even destroy their informativeness. Second, even when the life-cycle model holds, generational accounts only measure the effect of the budget on the lifetime consumption of private goods and services. They ignore the intergenerational (re-)distribution associated with the government's provision of public goods and services. Third, generational accounting ignores the effect of the budget on before-tax and before-transfer quantities and prices, including before-tax and -transfer distribution of life-time resources across generations and intertemporal relative prices. That is, it does not handle incidence or general equilibrium repercussions very well. Although useful, generational accounts should therefore carry the label 'handle with great care.'

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5087.

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Date of creation: Apr 1995
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Publication status: published as Economica, Vol.64 (1997), pp. 605-626.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5087

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  1. Alan J. Auerbach & Jagadeesh Gokhale & Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 1994. "Generational Accounting: A Meaningful Way to Evaluate Fiscal Policy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(1), pages 73-94, Winter.
  2. Laurence J. Kotlikoff & Laurence J. Kotlikoff & Willi Leibfritz, 1999. "From Deficit Delusion to the Fiscal Balance Rule: Looking for an Economically Meaningful Way to Assess Fiscal Policy," NBER Chapters, in: Generational Accounting around the World, pages 9-30 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Fumio Hayashi, 1985. "Tests for Liquidity Constraints: A Critical Survey," NBER Working Papers 1720, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Willem H. Buiter, 1990. "Principles of Budgetary and Financial Policy," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262524139, December.
  5. Willem H. Buiter & K.M. Kletzer, 1994. "Ponzi Finance, Government Solvency and the Redundancy or Usefulness of Public Debt," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1070, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  6. Alan J. Auerbach & Jagadeesh Gokhale & Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 1991. "Generational accounting: a new approach for understanding the effects of fiscal policy on saving," Working Paper 9107, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  7. Yotsuzuka, Toshiki, 1987. "Ricardian equivalence in the presence of capital market imperfections," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 411-436, September.
  8. Eaton, Jonathan & Gersovitz, Mark, 1981. "Debt with Potential Repudiation: Theoretical and Empirical Analysis," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(2), pages 289-309, April.
  9. Eric O'N. Fisher & YoungSoo Woo, 1994. "A New Meaure of the Korean Current Account," International Finance 9411001, EconWPA.
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Cited by:
  1. C. Emre Alper & Oya Pinar Ardic & Ayse Mumcu & Ismail Saglam, 2006. "The Welfare Effects of Government's Preferences over Spending and Its Financing," Working Papers 2006/04, Bogazici University, Department of Economics.
  2. Gemma Abío & Eduard Berenguer & Holger Bonin & Joan Gil & Concepció Patxot, 2003. "Is the deficit under control? A generational accounting perspective on fiscal policy and labour market trends in Spain," Investigaciones Economicas, Fundación SEPI, vol. 27(2), pages 309-341, May.
  3. Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 2001. "Generational Policy," NBER Working Papers 8163, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Jabłonowski, Janusz & Müller, Christoph & Raffelhüschen, Bernd, 2010. "A fiscal outlook for Poland using generational accounts," FZG Discussion Papers 47, Research Center for Generational Contracts (FZG), University of Freiburg.
  5. Hoevenaars, Roy P.M.M. & Ponds, Eduard H.M., 2008. "Valuation of intergenerational transfers in funded collective pension schemes," Insurance: Mathematics and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(2), pages 578-593, April.
  6. Holger Bonin & Joan Gil Trasfi & Concepcion Patxot Cardoner, 1999. "Beyond the Toledo agreement: the intergenerational impact of the spanish pension reform," Working Papers in Economics 54, Universitat de Barcelona. Espai de Recerca en Economia.
  7. Nick Draper & Alex Armstrong, 2007. "GAMMA; a simulation model for ageing, pensions and public finances," CPB Document 147, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.
  8. Jan Babecky & Kamil Dybczak, 2009. "The Impact of Population Ageing on the Czech Economy," Working Papers 2009/1, Czech National Bank, Research Department.
  9. Kotlikoff, L.J. & Raffelhuschen, B., 1999. "Generational Accounting around the Globe," Norway; Department of Economics, University of Bergen 195, Department of Economics, University of Bergen.
  10. Otto Gandenberger, 2000. "Is the Fiscal Deficit Misconceived? Proponents of Generational Accounting Overstate their Case," CESifo Working Paper Series 282, CESifo Group Munich.

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