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Average tax rate cyclicality in OECD countries: A test of three fiscal policy theories

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  • Furceri, Davide
  • Karras, Georgios

Abstract

This paper investigates the cyclical properties of the average effective tax rate in 26 OECD countries over 1965-2003 in order to test the validity of three theories of fiscal policy: (i) the standard Keynesian theory which recommends that tax policy should be counter-cyclical, (ii) the Tax Smoothing hypothesis, which implies that changes in GDP should be uncorrelated with tax rates, and (iii) the positive theory of Battaglini and Coate (2008) which predicts that the average tax rate should be negatively correlated with GDP. Our main finding is that the correlations of tax rates with cyclical GDP are generally quite small and statistically indistinguishable from zero. This finding is quite robust and is more consistent with the implications of the Tax Smoothing hypothesis than either the recommendations of the standard Keynesian model or the predictions of Battaglini and Coate’s theory.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 22208.

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Date of creation: 07 Apr 2010
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:22208

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Keywords: Fiscal Policy; Tax Rates; Business Cycle;

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  1. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 2001. "Political Institutions and Policy Outcomes: What are the Stylized Facts?," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 412, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  2. Ethan Ilzetzki & Carlos A. Vegh, 2008. "Procyclical Fiscal Policy in Developing Countries: Truth or Fiction?," NBER Working Papers 14191, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Michael Gavin & Roberto Perotti, 1997. "Fiscal Policy in Latin America," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1997, Volume 12, pages 11-72 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Torsten Persson, 2002. "Do Political Institutions Shape Economic Policy?," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(3), pages 883-905, May.
  5. Lane, Philip R., 2003. "The cyclical behaviour of fiscal policy: evidence from the OECD," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(12), pages 2661-2675, December.
  6. Marco Battaglini & Stephen Coate, 2008. "Fiscal Policy over the Real Business Cycle: A Positive Theory," NBER Working Papers 14047, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Barro, Robert J, 1979. "On the Determination of the Public Debt," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 940-71, October.
  8. Reinhart, Carmen & Kaminsky, Graciela & Vegh, Carlos, 2004. "When it rains, it pours: Procyclical capital flows and macroeconomic policies," MPRA Paper 13883, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  9. Pierre-Olivier Beffy & Patrice Ollivaud & Pete Richardson & Franck Sédillot, 2006. "New OECD Methods for Supply-side and Medium-term Assessments: A Capital Services Approach," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 482, OECD Publishing.
  10. Bennett Sutton & Luis Catão, 2002. "Sovereign Defaults: The Role of Volatility," IMF Working Papers 02/149, International Monetary Fund.
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Cited by:
  1. Barseghyan, Levon & Battaglini, Marco & Coate, Stephen, 2013. "Fiscal policy over the real business cycle: A positive theory," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 148(6), pages 2223-2265.
  2. Marco Battaglini & Stephen Coate, 2011. "Fiscal Policy and Unemployment," NBER Working Papers 17562, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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