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The Political Economy of Unsustainable Fiscal Deficits

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  • Roberto Pasten
  • James P. Cover

Abstract

This paper uses an intertemporal model of public finances to show that political instability can cause taxes to be tilted to the future, resulting in a fiscal deficit that is suboptimal and only weakly sustainable (in the sense of Quintos). This occurs because political instability gives the government an incentive to implement a myopic fiscal policy in order to increase its chances of remaining in office. The government achieves this by delaying taxes (or advancing spending) in order to buy political support, which in turn causes an upward trend in the deficit process and a financial crisis. Using annual data for Chile for the 1833-1999 period, we present statistical test results that support the model.

Suggested Citation

  • Roberto Pasten & James P. Cover, 2010. "The Political Economy of Unsustainable Fiscal Deficits," Latin American Journal of Economics-formerly Cuadernos de Economía, Instituto de Economía. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile., vol. 47(136), pages 169-189.
  • Handle: RePEc:ioe:cuadec:v:47:y:2010:i:136:p:169-189
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Umoh, O. J. & Onye, Kenneth U. & Atan, Johnson A., 2018. "Political and Institutional Determinants of Fiscal Policy Persistence in West Africa," MPRA Paper 88452, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Zeineb Gouasmi & Houda Haffoudhi, 2020. "Analysis of Sustainability of Fiscal Policy and Democratic Transition: Case of Tunisia," Journal of the Knowledge Economy, Springer;Portland International Center for Management of Engineering and Technology (PICMET), vol. 11(2), pages 512-529, June.
    3. Anwar, Mumtaz & Ahmad, Munazza, 2012. "Political determinants of budget deficit in Pakistan: An empirical investigation," HWWI Research Papers 135, Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI).
    4. Krzysztof Beck & Michał Możdżeń, 2020. "Institutional Determinants of Budgetary Expenditures. A BMA-Based Re-Evaluation of Contemporary Theories for OECD Countries," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(10), pages 1-1, May.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Fiscal policy; political instability; weak and strong sustainability; cointegration with change in regime;

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H62 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Deficit; Surplus

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