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Public debt sustainability: An empirical study on OECD countries

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  • Beqiraj, Elton
  • Fedeli, Silvia
  • Forte, Francesco

Abstract

For a panel of 21 OECD heterogeneous countries from 1991 to 2015, we study governments’ reactions to the accumulation of debt and look at whether governments voluntary take corrective measures when the debt-GDP ratio starts rising or they rather let the debt grow. We distinguish between discretionary and automatic response of primary balance of government actions, as captured by the structural component of public primary balance and by cyclical component of public primary balance. We show the existence of a systematic long-term relationship between debt and structural primary balance supporting the view that the long-term governments’ discretionary response to increases in the debt-GDP ratio is negative, that is, governments are not currently taking long-term actions that counteract the increases in debts and do not satisfy the intertemporal budget constraint. In the short term, an asymmetric fiscal policy response exploiting the output gap, by part of the political class of the countries considered, seems to emerge: it intervenes with a new deficit and debt when the output gap is positive, but it does not adopt a symmetrical correction when the situation is reversed.

Suggested Citation

  • Beqiraj, Elton & Fedeli, Silvia & Forte, Francesco, 2018. "Public debt sustainability: An empirical study on OECD countries," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 238-248.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jmacro:v:58:y:2018:i:c:p:238-248
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jmacro.2018.10.002
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    3. Vicente Esteve & María A. Prats, 2021. "Financial bubbles and sustainability of public debt: The case of Spain," Working Papers 2111, Department of Applied Economics II, Universidad de Valencia.
    4. María del Carmen Ramos-Herrera & Simón Sosvilla-Rivero, 2020. "Fiscal Sustainability in Aging Societies: Evidence from Euro Area Countries," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 12(24), pages 1-20, December.
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    6. Ioana-Laura Țibulcă, 2021. "Debt Sustainability: Can EU Member States Use Environmental Taxes to Regain Fiscal Space?," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 13(11), pages 1-15, May.
    7. Gilles Dufrénot & Carolina Ulloa Suarez, 2019. "Public finance sustainability in Europe: a behavioral model," Working Papers halshs-02356400, HAL.
    8. Daniele, SCHILIRO', 2019. "Public debt and growth in Italy:Analysis and policy proposals," MPRA Paper 97950, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Nov 2019.
    9. Krzysztof Jarosinski, 2021. "Cost-Effectiveness Analysis (CEA) of Public Investment Projects," European Research Studies Journal, European Research Studies Journal, vol. 0(3B), pages 769-786.
    10. María del Carmen Ramos-Herrera & María A. Prats, 2020. "Fiscal Sustainability in the European Countries: A Panel ARDL Approach and a Dynamic Panel Threshold Model," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 12(20), pages 1-14, October.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Public debt; Sustainability; Primary surplus; Unit root; Cointegration;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H6 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt
    • H0 - Public Economics - - General
    • E6 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook

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