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The Political Economy of Public Debt


  • Marco Battaglini

    () (Department of Economics, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey 08544)


We survey recent theories of public debt that incorporate political decision making in rich dynamic environments. These theories provide a new framework with which to interpret empirical evidence and to assess institutional reforms that may help control political inefficiencies. We discuss the inefficiencies that lead to overaccumulation of debt and their implications for the long-run distribution of debt.

Suggested Citation

  • Marco Battaglini, 2011. "The Political Economy of Public Debt," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 3(1), pages 161-189, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:anr:reveco:v:3:y:2011:p:161-189

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    Cited by:

    1. Bouton, Laurent & Lizzeri, Alessandro & Persico, Nicola, 2016. "The Political Economy of Debt and Entitlements," CEPR Discussion Papers 11459, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Dietrichson, Jens & Ellegård, Lina Maria, 2015. "Assist or desist? Conditional bailouts and fiscal discipline in local governments," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 153-168.
    3. Barseghyan, Levon & Battaglini, Marco, 2016. "Political economy of debt and growth," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(C), pages 36-51.
    4. Ernesto Crivelli & Sanjeev Gupta & Carlos Mulas-Granados & Carolina Correa-Caro, 2016. "Fragmented Politics and Public Debt," IMF Working Papers 16/190, International Monetary Fund.
    5. Henrique S. Basso & James Costain, 2016. "Fiscal Delegation in a Monetary Union with Decentralized Public Spending," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 62(2), pages 256-288.
    6. Miller, David S., 2016. "Commitment versus discretion in a political economy model of fiscal and monetary policy interaction," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 17-29.
    7. Stasavage, David, 2016. "What we can learn from the early history of sovereign debt," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 1-16.

    More about this item


    fiscal policy; constitutional design; legislative bargaining; electoral rules; balanced budget rule;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • H6 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt


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