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Fiscal Union in Europe? Redistributive and Stabilising Effects of a European Tax-Benefit System and Fiscal Equalisation Mechanism

  • Olivier Bargain

    ()

    (Aix-Marseille School of Economics, IZA and CEPS/INSTEAD)

  • Mathias Dolls

    ()

    (IZA and University of Cologne)

  • Clemens Fuest

    ()

    (University of Oxford, University of Cologne, CESifo and IZA)

  • Dirk Neumann

    ()

    (IZA and University of Cologne)

  • Andreas Peichl

    ()

    (IZA, University of Cologne, ISER and CESifo)

  • Nico Pestel

    ()

    (IZA and University of Cologne)

  • Sebastian Siegloch

    ()

    (IZA and University of Cologne)

The current debt crisis has given rise to a debate about deeper fiscal integration in Europe. The view is widespread that moving towards a ‘fiscal union’ would have a stabilising effect in the event of macroeconomic shocks. In this paper we study the economic effects of introducing two elements of a fiscal union: Firstly, an EU-wide tax and transfer system and secondly, an EU-wide system of fiscal equalisation. Using the European tax-benefit calculator EUROMOD, we exploit representative household micro data from 11 Eurozone countries to simulate these policy reforms and to study their effects on the distribution of income as well as their impact on automatic fiscal stabilisers. We find that replacing one third of the national tax and transfer systems by a European system would lead to significant redistributive effects both within and across countries. These effects depend on income levels and the structures of the existing national tax and transfer systems. The EU system would improve fiscal stabilisation especially in credit constrained countries. It would absorb between 10 and 15 per cent of a macroeconomic income shock. Introducing a fiscal equalisation system based on taxing capacity would redistribute revenues from high to low income countries. The stabilisation properties of this system, however, are ambiguous. This suggests that not all forms of fiscal integration will improve macroeconomic stability in the Eurozone.

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Paper provided by Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation in its series Working Papers with number 1222.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:btx:wpaper:1222
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  1. Mathias Dolls & Clemens Fuest & Andreas Peichl, 2010. "Automatic Stabilizers and Economic Crisis: US vs. Europe," NBER Working Papers 16275, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Barry Eichengreen., 1990. "One Money for Europe? Lessons from the US Currency Union," Economics Working Papers 90-132, University of California at Berkeley.
  3. von Hagen, Jurgen & Hammond, George W, 1998. "Regional Insurance against Asymmetric Shocks: An Empirical Study for the European Community," The Manchester School of Economic & Social Studies, University of Manchester, vol. 66(3), pages 331-53, June.
  4. Rolf Aaberge & Ugo Colombino, 2008. "Designing Optimal Taxes with a Microeconometric Model of Household Labour Supply," ICER Working Papers 19-2008, ICER - International Centre for Economic Research.
  5. repec:imf:imfpdp:9607 is not listed on IDEAS
  6. Bargain, Olivier & Decoster, André & Dolls, Mathias & Neumann, Dirk & Peichl, Andreas & Siegloch, Sebastian, 2011. "Welfare, labor supply and heterogeneous preferences: evidence for Europe and the US," EUROMOD Working Papers EM5/11, EUROMOD at the Institute for Social and Economic Research.
  7. Clemens Fuest & Andreas Peichl, 2012. "European Fiscal Union: What Is It? Does It work? And Are There Really 'No Alternatives'?," CESifo Forum, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 13(1), pages 03-09, 04.
  8. Keuschnigg, Christian, 2012. "Should Europe Become a Fiscal Union?," Economics Working Paper Series 1205, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.
  9. Bargain, Olivier & Orsini, Kristian & Peichl, Andreas, 2011. "Labor supply elasticities in Europe and the US," EUROMOD Working Papers EM1/11, EUROMOD at the Institute for Social and Economic Research.
  10. Michael D. Bordo & Agnieszka Markiewicz & Lars Jonung, 2011. "A Fiscal Union for the Euro: Some Lessons from History," NBER Working Papers 17380, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Kai A. Konrad & Holger Zschäpitz, 2011. "The Future of the Eurozone," CESifo Forum, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 12(2), pages 46-49, 07.
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