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Testing Ricardian Equivalence under Uncertainty


  • Slate, Stephen
  • McKee, Michael
  • Beck, William
  • Alm, James


This paper uses experimental methods to analyze Ricardian equivalence when the probability of debt retirement is less than one. The results suggest that the presence of outstanding debt and the probability of debt retirement have a strong influence on savings behavior. When the probability of debt retirement is low, consumption by the current generation increases, as predicted by Keynesian theory. However, as the probability of debt retirement increases, bequests rise to offset the future generation's expected repayment liability, and deficit spending becomes much less expansionary, as predicted by Ricardian theory. In general, the average bequest is significantly larger when an outstanding debt is passed on to the next generation than when no debt exists, regardless of the probability of debt retirement. However, as long as there is some uncertainty about debt repayment, the presence of debt always stimulates some additional consumption, so that strong variants of Ricardian equivalence are not found. Coauthors are Michael McKee, William Beck, and James Alm. Copyright 1995 by Kluwer Academic Publishers

Suggested Citation

  • Slate, Stephen & McKee, Michael & Beck, William & Alm, James, 1995. "Testing Ricardian Equivalence under Uncertainty," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 85(1-2), pages 11-29, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:85:y:1995:i:1-2:p:11-29

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    Cited by:

    1. Hayo, Bernd & Neumeier, Florian, 2017. "The (In)validity of the Ricardian equivalence theorem–findings from a representative German population survey," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 162-174.
    2. Meissner, Thomas & Rostam-Afschar, Davud, 2017. "Learning Ricardian Equivalence," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 82(C), pages 273-288.
    3. POZZI Lorenzo & HEYLEN Freddy & DOSSCHE Maarten, "undated". "Government Debt and the Excess Sensitivity of Private Consumption to Current Income: An Empirical Analysis for OECD Countries," EcoMod2003 330700125, EcoMod.
    4. Geiger, Martin & Luhan, Wolfgang J. & Scharler, Johann, 2016. "When do fiscal consolidations lead to consumption booms? Lessons from a laboratory experiment," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 1-20.
    5. repec:pit:wpaper:334 is not listed on IDEAS

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