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Restoring Fiscal Sustainability in the Euro Area Raise Taxes or Curb Spending?

  • Cournède, Boris
  • Gonand, Frédéric

With population ageing, fiscal consolidation has become of paramount importance for euro area countries. Consolidation can be pursued in various ways, with different effects on potential growth, which itself will be dragged down by ageing. A dynamic general equilibrium model with overlapping generations and a public finance block (including a pay-as-you-go pension regime, a health care system, non ageingrelated public spending and a stock of debt to be repaid) is used to compare the macroeconomic impact of four scenarios: a) increasing taxes to finance unchanged pensions and repay public debt, b) lowering future pension replacement rates and repaying public debt through a lower ratio of non ageing-related outlays to GDP, c) raising the retirement age by 1.25 years per decade and increasing taxes only to pay off debt, and d) increasing the retirement age by 1.25 years per decade and paying off debt through a lower ratio of non ageing-related expenditure to GDP. This last scenario is the one where growth is strongest: with gradual increases in the retirement age and spending restraint, average GDP growth in the 2010s would be 0.34 percentage point stronger than in a scenario where fiscal consolidation is achieved exclusively through tax hikes. The appropriate conclusion from the model is not that public spending is bad per se, but that cuts to lower-priority spending items can deliver surprisingly large income gains compared with the alternative of raising taxes.

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Paper provided by Paris Dauphine University in its series Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine with number 123456789/11047.

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Date of creation: Oct 2006
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Publication status: Published in OECD Economics Department Working Papers, 2006
Handle: RePEc:dau:papers:123456789/11047
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.dauphine.fr/en/welcome.html

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