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Has Public Insurance Gone Too Far?

  • Ludger Schuknecht
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    This study argues that insurance is a much more pervasive motive of government activity than is commonly thought; one associated with great benefits but also great risks. From the start of public social insurance in the late 19th century, social insurance has come a long way to “all-inclusive” modern welfare states that absorb, on average, 25% of GDP in industrialised countries. Moreover, governments today are expected to “insure” aggregate demand via public spending and jobs, and economic sectors – most notably the financial industry – via subsidies and bailouts. Public insurance has also spread across borders via international support programmes. All this has not only boosted government debt to historic peace-time highs, but also led to significant potential future government liabilities via social security systems and possible further national and international financial support programmes. While the distributional implications are ambivalent, the compound effects have put the sustainability of public finances and macroeconomic stability at risk in many countries. Correcting over-commitments requires ambitious and timely policy action.

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    File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/portal/page/portal/DocBase_Content/WP/WP-CESifo_Working_Papers/wp-cesifo-2013/wp-cesifo-2013-04/cesifo1_wp4217.pdf
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    Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 4217.

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    Date of creation: 2013
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    Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_4217
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    1. Hans-Werner Sinn & Timo Wollmershäuser, 2011. "Target Loans, Current Account Balances and Capital Flows: The ECB’s Rescue Facility," CESifo Working Paper Series 3500, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. Sebastian Hauptmeier & Martin Heipertz & Ludger Schuknecht, 2007. "Expenditure Reform in Industrialised Countries: A Case-Study Approach," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 28(3), pages 293-342, 09.
    3. Schuknecht, Ludger & Hauptmeier, Sebastian & Sanchez Fuéntes, Jésus, 2011. "Towards Expenditure Rules and Fiscal Sanity in the Euro Area," Annual Conference 2011 (Frankfurt, Main): The Order of the World Economy - Lessons from the Crisis 48693, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    4. Alan T. Peacock & Jack Wiseman, 1961. "The Growth of Public Expenditure in the United Kingdom," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number peac61-1, June.
    5. Fabian Valencia & Luc Laeven, 2008. "Systemic Banking Crises; A New Database," IMF Working Papers 08/224, International Monetary Fund.
    6. Ludger Schuknecht & Philippe Moutot & Philipp Rother & Jürgen Stark, 2011. "The Stability and Growth Pact: Crisis and Reform," CESifo DICE Report, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 9(3), pages 10-18, October.
    7. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521894753 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Alberto F. Alesina & Silvia Ardagna, 2012. "The design of fiscal adjustments," NBER Working Papers 18423, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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