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A Model-Based Evaluation of the Debate on the Size of the Tax Multiplier


  • Ryan Chahrour
  • Stephanie Schmitt-Grohé
  • Martín Uribe


The SVAR and narrative approaches to estimating tax multipliers deliver significantly different results. The former yields multipliers of about 1 and the latter of about 3. The two approaches differ along two important dimensions: the identification scheme and the reduced-form transmission mechanism. This paper uses a DSGE-model to evaluate the hypothesis that the difference in multipliers is due to differences in transmission mechanisms. The main finding of the paper is that this hypothesis is rejected. Instead, the observed differences in estimated multipliers are due either to the models failing to identify the same tax shock, or to small-sample uncertainty. (JEL E13, E23, E32, E62, H20)

Suggested Citation

  • Ryan Chahrour & Stephanie Schmitt-Grohé & Martín Uribe, 2012. "A Model-Based Evaluation of the Debate on the Size of the Tax Multiplier," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 4(2), pages 28-45, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejpol:v:4:y:2012:i:2:p:28-45 Note: DOI: 10.1257/pol.4.2.28

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. repec:nbr:nberch:13348 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Stephanie Schmitt-Grohe & Martin Uribe, 2011. "Business Cycles With A Common Trend in Neutral and Investment-Specific Productivity," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 14(1), pages 122-135, January.
    3. Karel Mertens & Morten O. Ravn, 2012. "Empirical Evidence on the Aggregate Effects of Anticipated and Unanticipated US Tax Policy Shocks," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 4(2), pages 145-181, May.
    4. Olivier Blanchard & Roberto Perotti, 2002. "An Empirical Characterization of the Dynamic Effects of Changes in Government Spending and Taxes on Output," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1329-1368.
    5. Carlo A. Favero & Francesco Giavazzi, 2010. "Reconciling VAR-based and Narrative Measures of the Tax-Multiplier," Working Papers 361, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
    6. Karel Mertens & Morten Overgaard Ravn, 2011. "Understanding the Aggregate Effects of Anticipated and Unanticipated Tax Policy Shocks," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 14(1), pages 27-54, January.
    7. Christina D. Romer & David H. Romer, 2010. "The Macroeconomic Effects of Tax Changes: Estimates Based on a New Measure of Fiscal Shocks," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(3), pages 763-801, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Anna Kormilitsina, 2016. "Is Government Spending Predetermined? A Test of Identification for Fiscal Policy Shocks," Departmental Working Papers 1607, Southern Methodist University, Department of Economics.
    2. Tommaso Monacelli & Roberto Perotti & Antonella Trigari, 2013. "Taxes and the Labor Market," Central Banking, Analysis, and Economic Policies Book Series,in: Luis Felipe Céspedes & Jordi Galí (ed.), Fiscal Policy and Macroeconomic Performance, edition 1, volume 17, chapter 2, pages 27-58 Central Bank of Chile.
    3. Roberto perotti, 2011. "Expectations and Fiscal Policy: An Empirical Investigation," Working Papers 429, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
    4. Combes, Jean Louis & Minea, Alexandru & YOGO, Thierry & Mustea, Lavinia, 2015. "Output effects of fiscal stimulus in Central and Eastern European Countries," MPRA Paper 65623, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 31 May 2015.
    5. Ricardo Félix & Gabriela Castro & José Maria & Paulo Júlio, 2013. "Fiscal Multipliers in a Small Euro Area Economy: How Big Can They Get in Crisis Times?," EcoMod2013 5307, EcoMod.
    6. Mertens, Karel & Ravn, Morten O., 2014. "A reconciliation of SVAR and narrative estimates of tax multipliers," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(S), pages 1-19.
    7. J. Stephen Ferris, 2010. "Fiscal Policy from a Public Choice Perspective," Carleton Economic Papers 10-10, Carleton University, Department of Economics.
    8. Jones, Paul M. & Olson, Eric & Wohar, Mark E., 2015. "Asymmetric tax multipliers," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 38-48.
    9. repec:fgv:epgrbe:v:71:y:2017:i:3:a:66441 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. repec:nbr:nberch:13345 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Alban Moura, 2016. "The Effects of Government Spending Endogeneity on Estimated Multipliers in the U.S," Annals of Economics and Statistics, GENES, issue 121-122, pages 359-384.
    12. Dario Caldara & Christophe Kamps, 2017. "The Analytics of SVARs: A Unified Framework to Measure Fiscal Multipliers," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 84(3), pages 1015-1040.
    13. Kurt Kratena & Gerhard Streicher, 2017. "Fiscal Policy Multipliers and Spillovers in a Multi-Regional Macroeconomic Input-Output Model," WIFO Working Papers 540, WIFO.
    14. Masten, Igor & Grdović Gnip, Ana, 2016. "Stress testing the EU fiscal framework," Journal of Financial Stability, Elsevier, vol. 26(C), pages 276-293.
    15. repec:nbr:nberch:13350 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Roberto Perotti, 2010. "The Effects of Tax Shocks on Output: Not So Large, But Not Small Either," NBER Chapters,in: Trans-Atlantic Public Economics Seminar (TAPES), Fiscal Policy, pages 214-237 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Carlo Favero & Francesco Giavazzi, 2012. "Measuring Tax Multipliers: The Narrative Method in Fiscal VARs," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 4(2), pages 69-94, May.
    18. Perotti, Roberto, 2011. "The Effects of Tax Shocks on Output: Not So Large, But Not Small Either," CEPR Discussion Papers 8252, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    19. Fabrício Pitombo Leite, 2015. "Taking Godley's Ratios Seriously," Metroeconomica, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(3), pages 508-533, July.
    20. Michael Clemens and Timothy N. Ogden, 2014. "Migration as a Strategy for Household Finance: A Research Agenda on Remittances, Payments, and Development- Working Paper 354," Working Papers 354, Center for Global Development.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E13 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General Aggregative Models - - - Neoclassical
    • E23 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Production
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H20 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - General


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