IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Rotten Parents and Disciplined Children: A Politico‐Economic Theory of Public Expenditure and Debt

  • Zheng Song
  • Kjetil Storesletten
  • Fabrizio Zilibotti

This paper proposes a dynamic politico-economic theory of debt, government finance and expenditure. Agents have preferences over a private and government-provided public good, financed through labour taxation. Subsequent generations of voters choose taxation, government expenditure and debt accumulation through repeated elections. Debt introduces a conflict of interest between young and old voters: the young want more fiscal discipline as they are concerned with the ability to of future governments to provide public goods. We characterize the Markov Perfect Equilibrium of the dynamic voting game. If taxes do not distort labour supply, the economy progressively depletes its resources through debt accumulation, leaving future genereations "enslaved". However, if tax distortions are sufficiently large, the economy converges to a stationary debt level which is bounded away from the endogenous debt limit. We extend the analysis to redistributive policies and political shocks. Consistent with the empirical evidence, our theory predicts governement debt to be mean reverting and debt growth to be larger under right-wing than under left-wing governments.

(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.3982/ECTA8910
Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by Econometric Society in its journal Econometrica.

Volume (Year): 80 (2012)
Issue (Month): 6 (November)
Pages: 2785-2803

as
in new window

Handle: RePEc:ecm:emetrp:v:80:y:2012:i:6:p:2785-2803
Contact details of provider: Phone: 1 212 998 3820
Fax: 1 212 995 4487
Web page: http://www.econometricsociety.org/
Email:


More information through EDIRC

Order Information: Web: https://www.econometricsociety.org/publications/econometrica/access/ordering-back-issues Email:


References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Robert E. Lucas Jr. & Nancy L. Stokey, 1982. "Optimal Fiscal and Monetary Policy in an Economy Without Capital," Discussion Papers 532, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  2. Hassler, John & Storesletten, Kjetil & Zilibotti, Fabrizio, 2003. "Democratic Public Good Provision," CEPR Discussion Papers 4044, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Alberto Alesina & Guido Tabellini, 2005. "Why Is Fiscal Policy Often Procyclical?," Working Papers 297, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  4. Feldstein, Martin, 1995. "The Effect of Marginal Tax Rates on Taxable Income: A Panel Study of the 1986 Tax Reform Act," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(3), pages 551-72, June.
  5. Per Pettersson-Lidbom, 2001. "An Empirical Investigation of the Strategic Use of Debt," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(3), pages 570-583, June.
  6. Santos, Manuel S, 1991. "Smoothness of the Policy Function in Discrete Time Economic Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(5), pages 1365-82, September.
  7. Luisa Lambertini, 2003. "Are Budget Deficits Used Strategically?," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 578, Boston College Department of Economics.
  8. Gonzales-Eiras, Martín & Niepelt, Dirk, 2004. "Sustaining Social Security," Seminar Papers 731, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
  9. Emmanuel Saez, 1999. "The Effect of Marginal Tax Rates on Income: A Panel Study of 'Bracket Creep'," NBER Working Papers 7367, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Ivan Werning & Emmanuel Farhi, 2005. "Inequality, Social Discounting and Estate Taxation," 2005 Meeting Papers 358, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  11. repec:bla:restud:v:76:y:2009:i:3:p:1023-1048 is not listed on IDEAS
  12. Marco Battaglini & Stephen Coate, 2008. "A Dynamic Theory of Public Spending, Taxation, and Debt," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(1), pages 201-36, March.
  13. Marina Azzimonti Renzo, 2004. "On the dynamic inefficiency of governments," 2004 Meeting Papers 228, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  14. Hassler, John & Mora, Jose & Storesletten, Kjetil & Zilibotti, Fabrizio, 2002. "The Survival of the Welfare State," Seminar Papers 704, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
  15. Beck, Thorsten & Clarke, George & Groff, Alberto & Keefer, Philip & Walsh, Patrick, 2000. "New tools and new tests in comparative political economy - the database of political institutions," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2283, The World Bank.
  16. Hurd, Michael D, 1989. "Mortality Risk and Bequests," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(4), pages 779-813, July.
  17. Laitner, J. & Ohlsson, H., 1998. "Bequest Motives: a Comparison of Sweden and the United States," Papers 1998:16, Uppsala - Working Paper Series.
  18. Judd, Kenneth L., 1992. "Projection methods for solving aggregate growth models," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 410-452, December.
  19. Zheng Song, 2011. "The Dynamics of Inequality and Social Security in General Equilibrium," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 14(4), pages 613-635, October.
  20. Per Pettersson-Lidbom, 2008. "Do Parties Matter for Economic Outcomes? A Regression-Discontinuity Approach," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 6(5), pages 1037-1056, 09.
  21. Judson, Ruth A. & Owen, Ann L., 1999. "Estimating dynamic panel data models: a guide for macroeconomists," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 9-15, October.
  22. Henning Bohn, 1998. "The Behavior Of U.S. Public Debt And Deficits," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(3), pages 949-963, August.
  23. Charles L. Ballard & Don Fullerton, 1992. "Distortionary Taxes and the Provision of Public Goods," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 6(3), pages 117-131, Summer.
  24. Per Krusell & Anthony A Smith, Jr., 2001. "Consumption Savings Decisions with Quasi-Geometric Discounting," Levine's Working Paper Archive 625018000000000251, David K. Levine.
  25. Persson, Torsten & Svensson, Lars E O, 1989. "Why a Stubborn Conservative Would Run a Deficit: Policy with Time-Inconsistent Preferences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 104(2), pages 325-45, May.
  26. Per Krusell & Fernando M. Martin & Jose-Victor Rios-Rull, 2006. "Time Consistent Debt," 2006 Meeting Papers 210, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  27. Feldstein, Martin, 1995. "Effect of Marginal Tax Rates on Taxable Income: A Panel Study of the 1986 Tax Reform Act," Scholarly Articles 2766676, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  28. Lindsey, Lawrence B., 1987. "Individual taxpayer response to tax cuts: 1982-1984 : With implications for the revenue maximizing tax rate," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 173-206, July.
  29. Thomas F. Cooley & Jorge Soares, 1999. "A Positive Theory of Social Security Based on Reputation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(1), pages 135-160, February.
  30. Browning, Edgar K, 1987. "On the Marginal Welfare Cost of Taxation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(1), pages 11-23, March.
  31. Song, Zheng, 2008. "Persistent Ideology and the Determination of Public Policies over Time," MPRA Paper 10364, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  32. Paul van den Noord & Richard Herd, 1993. "Pension Liabilities in the Seven Major Economies," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 142, OECD Publishing.
  33. Hassler, John & Krusell, Per & Storesletten, Kjetil & Zilibotti, Fabrizio, 2005. "The dynamics of government," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(7), pages 1331-1358, October.
  34. Alessandro Gavazza & Alessandro Lizzeri, 2009. "Transparency and Economic Policy," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 76(3), pages 1023-1048.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is featured on the following reading lists or Wikipedia pages:

  1. Economic Logic blog

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ecm:emetrp:v:80:y:2012:i:6:p:2785-2803. 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: (Wiley-Blackwell Digital Licensing)

or (Christopher F. Baum)

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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link 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 profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

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

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.