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Generational Accounting: A Meaningful Way to Evaluate Fiscal Policy

Author

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  • Alan J. Auerbach
  • Jagadeesh Gokhale
  • Laurence J. Kotlikoff

Abstract

This paper illustrates the technique of generational accounting, a new way to evaluate fiscal policy that overcomes the inherent ambiguities of traditional deficit accounting. The authors illustrate why there is no 'correct' measure of the deficit and how generational accounting--estimating the fiscal burdens current policy places on different generations--provides a clearer picture of the intergenerational and macroeconomic effects of fiscal policy than any measure of the deficit. Their calculations suggest that, despite recent changes, U.S. fiscal policy is unsustainable in that it will ultimately require future generations to bear a much higher burden than those currently alive.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:8:y:1994:i:1:p:73-94
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.8.1.73
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    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.8.1.73
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Evans, Paul, 1987. "Do budget deficits raise nominal interest rates? : Evidence from six countries," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 281-300, September.
    2. Zeldes, Stephen P, 1989. "Consumption and Liquidity Constraints: An Empirical Investigation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(2), pages 305-346, April.
    3. Auerbach, A.J. & Gokhale, J. & Kotlikoff, L.J. & Steigum, E.Jr., 1993. "Generational Accounting in Norway: Is Norway Overconsuming its Petroleum Wealth?," Papers 06-93, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration-.
    4. Evans, Paul, 1986. "Is the dollar high because of large budget deficits?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 227-249, November.
    5. Buiter, Willem H., 1993. "Public Debt in the USA: How Much, How Bad and Who Pays?," CEPR Discussion Papers 791, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. Evans, Paul, 1987. "Interest Rates and Expected Future Budget Deficits in the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(1), pages 34-58, February.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy

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