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Economic and Politico-Economic Equivalence of Fiscal Policies

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  • Martín Gonzalez-Eiras
  • Dirk Niepelt

Abstract

We extend “economic equivalence” results, like the Ricardian equivalence proposition, to the political sphere where policy is chosen sequentially. We derive conditions under which a policy regime (summarizing admissible policy choices in every period) and a state are “politico-economically equivalent” to another such pair, in the sense that both pairs give rise to the same equilibrium allocation. We apply the conditions in the context of politico-economic theories of government debt as a means to i) deliver intergenerational transfers or ii) smooth tax distortions. We find that certain politico-economic models of social security or variants thereof can be re-interpreted as novel politico-economic theories of debt while other models cannot, possibly explaining the political conflict surrounding social security reform. We also find that in environments with distorting taxes, economic equivalence relations between policies with different levels of debt do not extend to the political sphere.

Suggested Citation

  • Martín Gonzalez-Eiras & Dirk Niepelt, 2012. "Economic and Politico-Economic Equivalence of Fiscal Policies," CESifo Working Paper Series 3718, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3718
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Niepelt, Dirk, 2014. "Debt maturity without commitment," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(S), pages 37-54.
    2. Marco Battaglini & Stephen Coate, 2008. "A Dynamic Theory of Public Spending, Taxation, and Debt," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(1), pages 201-236, March.
    3. Ghiglino, Christian & Shell, Karl, 2000. "The Economic Effects of Restrictions on Government Budget Deficits," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 94(1), pages 106-137, September.
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    5. Dirk Niepelt, 2009. "Sovereign Debt Maturity without Commitment," 2009 Meeting Papers 231, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    6. Gonzalez-Eiras, Marti­n & Niepelt, Dirk, 2008. "The future of social security," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 197-218, March.
    7. Tabellini, Guido, 2000. " A Positive Theory of Social Security," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 102(3), pages 523-545, June.
    8. Zheng Song & Kjetil Storesletten & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2012. "Rotten Parents and Disciplined Children: A Politico‐Economic Theory of Public Expenditure and Debt," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 80(6), pages 2785-2803, November.
    9. Bassetto, Marco & Kocherlakota, Narayana, 2004. "On the irrelevance of government debt when taxes are distortionary," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 299-304, March.
    10. Feldstein, Martin & Liebman, Jeffrey B., 2002. "Social security," Handbook of Public Economics,in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 32, pages 2245-2324 Elsevier.
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    12. Javier Diaz-Gimenez & Giorgia Giovannetti & Ramon Marimon & Pedro Teles, 2008. "Nominal Debt as a Burden on Monetary Policy," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 11(3), pages 493-514, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gonzalez-Eiras, Martín & Niepelt, Dirk, 2012. "Ageing, government budgets, retirement, and growth," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 97-115.
    2. Martín Gonzales-Eiras & Dirk Niepelt, 2007. "Population Ageing, Government Budgets, and Productivity Growth in Politico-Economic Equilibrium," Working Papers 07.05, Swiss National Bank, Study Center Gerzensee.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    equivalence; social security; government debt; social security reform;

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions
    • H63 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Debt; Debt Management; Sovereign Debt

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