IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/bin/bpeajo/v40y2009i2009-01p139-214.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Do Tax Cuts Starve the Beast? The Effect of Tax Changes on Government Spending

Author

Listed:
  • Christina D. Romer

    (University of California, Berkeley)

  • David H. Romer

    (University of California, Berkeley)

Abstract

The hypothesis that decreases in taxes reduce future government spending is often cited as a reason for cutting taxes. However, because taxes change for many reasons, examinations of the relationship between overall measures of taxation and subsequent spending are plagued by problems of reverse causation and omitted variable bias. To deal with these problems, this paper examines the behavior of government expenditures following legislated tax changes that narrative sources suggest are largely uncorrelated with other factors affecting spending. The results provide no support for the hypothesis that tax cuts restrain government spending; indeed, they suggest that tax cuts may actually increase spending. The results also indicate that the main effect of tax cuts on the government budget is to induce subsequent legislated tax increases. Examination of four episodes of major tax cuts reinforces these conclusions.
(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

Suggested Citation

  • Christina D. Romer & David H. Romer, 2009. "Do Tax Cuts Starve the Beast? The Effect of Tax Changes on Government Spending," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 40(1 (Spring), pages 139-214.
  • Handle: RePEc:bin:bpeajo:v:40:y:2009:i:2009-01:p:139-214
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/2009a_bpea_romer.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Alan J. Auerbach, 2000. "Formation of fiscal policy: the experience of the past twenty-five years," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Apr, pages 9-23.
    2. Henning Bohn, "undated". "Budget Balance Through Revenue or Spending Adjustments ? Some Historical Evidence for the United States (Reprint 013)," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 03-91, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
    3. Valerie A. Ramey, 2011. "Identifying Government Spending Shocks: It's all in the Timing," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(1), pages 1-50.
    4. Alan J. Auerbach, 2003. "Fiscal Policy, Past and Present," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 34(1), pages 75-138.
    5. Ramey, Valerie A. & Shapiro, Matthew D., 1998. "Costly capital reallocation and the effects of government spending," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 145-194, June.
    6. 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.
    7. Niskanen, William A., 1978. "Deficits, government spending, and inflation : What is the evidence?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(3), pages 591-602, August.
    8. Bohn, Henning, 1991. "Budget balance through revenue or spending adjustments? : Some historical evidence for the United States," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 333-359, June.
    9. von Furstenberg, George M & Green, R Jeffrey & Jeong, Jin-Ho, 1986. "Tax and Spend, or Spend and Tax?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 68(2), pages 179-188, May.
    10. Becker, Gary S & Mulligan, Casey B, 2003. "Deadweight Costs and the Size of Government," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 46(2), pages 293-340, October.
    11. 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.
    12. Bohn, Henning, 1992. "Endogenous Government Spending and Ricardian Equivalence," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 102(412), pages 588-597, May.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Serbanoiu, Georgian Valentin, 2012. "Transmission of fiscal policy shocks into Romania's economy," MPRA Paper 40947, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Francesco Bianchi & Cosmin Ilut, 2017. "Monetary/Fiscal Policy Mix and Agent's Beliefs," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 26, pages 113-139, October.
    3. Jeffrey Frankel, 2011. "A Lesson from the South for Fiscal Policy in the US and Other Advanced Countries," Comparative Economic Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Association for Comparative Economic Studies, vol. 53(3), pages 407-430, September.
    4. Hussain, Syed M. & Malik, Samreen, 2016. "Asymmetric Effects of Exogenous Tax Changes," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 268-300.
    5. repec:prg:jnlpep:v:preprint:id:697:p:1-15 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Westerlund, Joakim & Mahdavi, Saeid & Firoozi, Fathali, 2011. "The tax-spending nexus: Evidence from a panel of US state-local governments," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 885-890, May.
    7. Halkos, George E. & Paizanos, Epameinondas Α., 2016. "The effects of fiscal policy on CO2 emissions: Evidence from the U.S.A," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 317-328.
    8. van der Wielen, Wouter, 2020. "The macroeconomic effects of tax changes: Evidence using real-time data for the European Union," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 302-321.
    9. Javier Andrés & José Emilio Boscá & Javier Ferri, 2011. "Household Leverage and Fiscal Multipliers," Working Papers 1103, International Economics Institute, University of Valencia.
    10. Niclas Berggren & Christian Bjørnskov, 2019. "Regulation and government debt," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 178(1), pages 153-178, January.
    11. Alexander James, 2015. "US State Fiscal Policy and Natural Resources," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 7(3), pages 238-257, August.
    12. Xavier Timbeau, 2013. "Le commencement de la déflation. Perspectives 2013-2014 pour l'économie mondiale," Revue de l'OFCE, Presses de Sciences-Po, vol. 0(3), pages 9-57.
    13. Bouakez, Hafedh & Chihi, Foued & Normandin, Michel, 2014. "Measuring the effects of fiscal policy," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 123-151.
    14. Martin Boileau & Michel Normandin, 2012. "Do tax cuts generate twin deficits? A multi‐country analysis," Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 45(4), pages 1667-1699, November.
    15. Stöhlker, Daniel & Neumeier, Florian & Fuest, Clemens, 2018. "Tax Cuts Starve the Beast! Evidence from Germany," VfS Annual Conference 2018 (Freiburg, Breisgau): Digital Economy 181592, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    16. Amihai Glazer, 2008. "Reducing Current Taxes to Raise Future Revenue," Working Papers 080914, University of California-Irvine, Department of Economics.
    17. Bryane Michael & Maja Popov, 2016. "The Failure of Theory to Predict the Way Public Sector Organisation Responds to its Organisational Environment and the Need for a Mosaic-View of Organisational Theory," Public Organization Review, Springer, vol. 16(1), pages 55-75, March.
    18. Halkos, George & Paizanos, Epameinondas, 2015. "Fiscal policy and economic performance: A review of the theoretical and empirical literature," MPRA Paper 67737, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    19. Alexander James, 2015. "US State Fiscal Policy and Natural Resources," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 7(3), pages 238-57, August.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Kriwoluzky, Alexander, 2012. "Pre-announcement and timing: The effects of a government expenditure shock," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(3), pages 373-388.
    2. Thorsten Drautzburg, 2020. "A narrative approach to a fiscal DSGE model," Quantitative Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 11(2), pages 801-837, May.
    3. Carmignani, Fabrizio, 2015. "The international effect of US government expenditure," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 63-73.
    4. Reicher, Claire, 2014. "Systematic fiscal policy and macroeconomic performance: A critical overview of the literature," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 8, pages 1-37.
    5. Peren Arin, K. & Koray, Faik & Spagnolo, Nicola, 2015. "Fiscal multipliers in good times and bad times," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 303-311.
    6. Reicher, Claire, 2014. "A set of estimated fiscal rules for a cross-section of countries: Stabilization and consolidation through which instruments?," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 184-198.
    7. Jose Tavares & Rossen Valkanov, 2001. "The neglected effect of fiscal policy on stock and bond returns," FEUNL Working Paper Series wp413, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Faculdade de Economia.
    8. Jesús Fernández-Villaverde & Pablo Guerrón-Quintana & Keith Kuester & Juan Rubio-Ramírez, 2015. "Fiscal Volatility Shocks and Economic Activity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(11), pages 3352-3384, November.
    9. Reicher, Christopher Phillip, 2009. "Fiscal Taylor rules in the postwar United States," Kiel Working Papers 1509, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    10. Agnello, Luca & Castro, Vitor & Sousa, Ricardo M., 2013. "What determines the duration of a fiscal consolidation program?," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 113-134.
    11. Shafik Hebous, 2011. "The Effects Of Discretionary Fiscal Policy On Macroeconomic Aggregates: A Reappraisal," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 25(4), pages 674-707, September.
    12. El-Shagi, Makram & Schweinitz, Gregor von, 2021. "Fiscal policy and fiscal fragility: Empirical evidence from the OECD," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 115(C).
    13. Giancarlo Corsetti & Michael P. Devereux & Luigi Guiso & John Hassler & Gilles Saint-Paul & Hans-Werner Sinn & Jan-Egbert Sturm & Xavier Vives, 2010. "Chapter 3: From Fiscal Rescue to Global Debt," EEAG Report on the European Economy, CESifo, vol. 0, pages 71-100, February.
    14. Şen, Hüseyin & Kaya, Ayşe, 2017. "How large are fiscal multipliers in Turkey?," EconStor Preprints 162763, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics.
    15. Piotr Krajewski, 2017. "Regionalne zróżnicowanie oddziaływania wydatków rządowych na zatrudnienie – wnioski z analizy SVAR," Bank i Kredyt, Narodowy Bank Polski, vol. 48(1), pages 73-96.
    16. Juan A. Correa & Christian Ferrada & Pablo Guti�rrez & Francisco Parro, 2014. "Effects of fiscal policy on private consumption: evidence from structural-balance fiscal rule deviations," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 21(11), pages 776-781, July.
    17. Agustín Bénétrix & Philip Lane, 2010. "Fiscal Shocks and The Sectoral Composition of Output," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 21(3), pages 335-350, July.
    18. Ramey, V.A., 2016. "Macroeconomic Shocks and Their Propagation," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & Harald Uhlig (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 0, pages 71-162, Elsevier.
    19. Deleidi, Matteo & Mazzucato, Mariana, 2021. "Directed innovation policies and the supermultiplier: An empirical assessment of mission-oriented policies in the US economy," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 50(2).
    20. 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.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    macroeconomics; tax cuts; government spending; taxation;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H50 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - General
    • H60 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - General
    • N12 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bin:bpeajo:v:40:y:2009:i:2009-01:p:139-214. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/esbrous.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Jennifer Ambrosino (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/esbrous.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.