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Promoting sustainable public finances in the European Union: The role of fiscal rules and government efficiency

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  • Bergman, U. Michael
  • Hutchison, Michael M.
  • Jensen, Svend E. Hougaard

Abstract

New indices of fiscal rule strength are constructed and, using a dynamic panel econometric model for 27 EU countries over the period 1990–2012, we assess whether national fiscal rules alone help to promote sustainable public finances in the EU or whether they must be supported by good governance in order to be effective. We find that fiscal rules are effective in reducing structural primary deficits at all levels of government efficiency. However, the effect is smaller as government efficiency increases, indicating that fiscal rules and government efficiency are institutional substitutes in terms of promoting fiscal sustainability. We also find that balanced budget rules are the most effective form of fiscal rules. Multiple fiscal rules are found to enhance fiscal solvency. Other institutional features that enhance the effectiveness of fiscal rules are transparency of policies and commitment to implementation of fiscal programs. Supranational rules, however, do not affect the effectiveness of national fiscal rules in reducing the deficit bias. Our results are robust to alternative estimation methods and endogeneity assumptions.

Suggested Citation

  • Bergman, U. Michael & Hutchison, Michael M. & Jensen, Svend E. Hougaard, 2016. "Promoting sustainable public finances in the European Union: The role of fiscal rules and government efficiency," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 1-19.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:poleco:v:44:y:2016:i:c:p:1-19
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ejpoleco.2016.04.005
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    1. repec:wfo:wstudy:60595 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Tóth, Csaba G., 2017. "Own or inherited? The effect of national fiscal rules after changes of government," MPRA Paper 81178, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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    4. Kuusi, Tero, 2018. "Does the structural budget balance guide fiscal policy pro-cyclically? Evidence from the Finnish Great Depression of the 1990s," MPRA Paper 84829, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. repec:eee:poleco:v:52:y:2018:i:c:p:166-191 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Reuter, Wolf Heinrich, 2017. "When and why do countries break their national fiscal rules?," Working Papers 01/2017, German Council of Economic Experts / Sachverständigenrat zur Begutachtung der gesamtwirtschaftlichen Entwicklung.

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