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The distributional effects of austerity measures: a comparison of six EU countries

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  • Callan, Tim
  • Leventi, Chrysa
  • Levy, Horacio
  • Matsaganis, Manos
  • Paulus, Alari
  • Sutherland, Holly

Abstract

We compare the distributional effects of austerity measures that have been introduced in 6 EU countries in the period of large government budget deficits following the 2007-8 financial crisis and subsequent economic downturn. We explore the effects of policy changes presented as “austerity measures†in Estonia, Ireland, Greece, Spain, Portugal and the UK, using the EU microsimulation model EUROMOD and the Irish national model, SWITCH. The six countries have chosen different policy mixes to achieve varying degrees of fiscal consolidation. We focus on the first round effects of increases in personal taxes, cuts in spending on cash benefits and reductions in public sector pay across the distributions of household income. There is a range of important conceptual and consistency issues to be addressed when doing such analysis, particularly in a comparative setting. These include how to identify “austerity measures†in a consistent manner, the relevant time periods to consider, the assumptions behind the counterfactual scenarios and the scope of the policies considered. Using a set of common assumptions we find that the burden of fiscal consolidation brought about through changes in components of household disposable income is shared differently across the income distribution in the six countries. At one extreme, in Greece, the better off lose a higher proportion of their incomes than the poor and at the other, in Portugal, the poor lose a higher proportion than the rich. Bringing increases in indirect taxes into the picture can alter conclusions about the overall distributional effect, increasing the cost most for those with lower income and making the overall incidence of the measures more regressive.

Suggested Citation

  • Callan, Tim & Leventi, Chrysa & Levy, Horacio & Matsaganis, Manos & Paulus, Alari & Sutherland, Holly, 2011. "The distributional effects of austerity measures: a comparison of six EU countries," EUROMOD Working Papers EM6/11, EUROMOD at the Institute for Social and Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:ese:emodwp:em6-11
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Tim Callan & Brian Nolan & Claire Keane & John R. Walsh, 2010. "Inequality and the Crisis: The Distributional Impact of Tax Increases and Welfare and Public Sector Pay Cuts," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 41(4), pages 461-471.
    2. André Decoster & Jason Loughrey & Cathal O'Donoghue & Dirk Verwerft, 2010. "How regressive are indirect taxes? A microsimulation analysis for five European countries," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 29(2), pages 326-350.
    3. Callan, Tim & Keane, Claire & Walsh, John R. & Lane, Marguerita, 2010. "From Data to Policy Analysis: Tax-Benefit Modelling using SILC 2008," Papers WP359, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
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    Cited by:

    1. Francesco Figari & Alari Paulus, 2015. "The Distributional Effects of Taxes and Transfers Under Alternative Income Concepts," Public Finance Review, , vol. 43(3), pages 347-372, May.
    2. Carlos Farinha Rodrigues & Isabel Andrade, 2013. "The Age-Old Problem of Old Age Poverty in Portugal," Working Papers Department of Economics 2013/27, ISEG - Lisbon School of Economics and Management, Department of Economics, Universidade de Lisboa.
    3. European Commission, 2013. "Tax reforms in EU Member States - Tax policy challenges for economic growth and fiscal sustainability – 2013 Report," Taxation Papers 38, Directorate General Taxation and Customs Union, European Commission.
    4. Holly Sutherland & Francesco Figari, 2013. "EUROMOD: the European Union tax-benefit microsimulation model," International Journal of Microsimulation, International Microsimulation Association, vol. 1(6), pages 4-26.
    5. Michał Brzeziński, 2015. "Inequality of opportunity in Europe before and after the Great Recession," Working Papers 2015-02, Faculty of Economic Sciences, University of Warsaw.
    6. Ayala-Nunes, Lara & Hidalgo García, Maria V & Jiménez, Lucía & Neves de Jesus, Saul, 2016. "Psychosocial Profile Of Spanish And Portuguese Family Preservation Users: An Analysis Of Needs And Intervention Clues," Journal of Spatial and Organizational Dynamics, CIEO-Research Centre for Spatial and Organizational Dynamics, University of Algarve, vol. 4(1), pages 81-101.
    7. Stefan Bach & Peter Haan & Richard Ochmann, 2013. "Taxation of Married Couples in Germany and the UK: One-Earner Couples Make the Difference," International Journal of Microsimulation, International Microsimulation Association, vol. 6(3), pages 3-24.
    8. Mariña Fernández Salgado & Francesco Figari & Holly Sutherland & Alberto Tumino, 2014. "Welfare Compensation for Unemployment in the Great Recession," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 60(S1), pages 177-204, May.
    9. Figari, Francesco & Matsaganis, Manos & Sutherland, Holly, 2011. "The financial well-being of older people in Europe and the redistributive effects of minimum pension schemes," EUROMOD Working Papers EM7/11, EUROMOD at the Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    10. Leventi, Chrysa & Matsaganis, Manos, 2013. "Distributional implications of the crisis in Greece in 2009-2012," EUROMOD Working Papers EM14/13, EUROMOD at the Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    11. Ramon Ballester & Jackeline Velazco & Ricard Rigall-I-Torrent, 2015. "Effects of the Great Recession on Immigrants’ Household Consumption in Spain," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, pages 771-797.
    12. FitzGerald, John, 2014. "The Distribution of Income and the Public Finances," Research Notes RN2014/2/4, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
    13. Koutsampelas, Christos & Polycarpou, Alexandros, 2013. "Austerity and the income distribution: the case of Cyprus," EUROMOD Working Papers EM4/13, EUROMOD at the Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    14. Manos Matsaganis & Chrysa Leventi, 2014. "Distributive Effects of the Crisis and Austerity in Seven EU Countries," ImPRovE Working Papers 14/04, Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp.
    15. Carlos Farinha Rodrigues & Isabel Andrade, 2016. "The Age-Old Problem Of Old Age Poverty In Portugal, 2006 – 14," Working Papers Department of Economics 2016/24, ISEG - Lisbon School of Economics and Management, Department of Economics, Universidade de Lisboa.
    16. Sebastian Leitner, 2013. "Analysis of Short and Medium Term Crisis Effects on Welfare and Poverty in SEE: Stress Testing Bulgarian and Romanian Households," wiiw Balkan Observatory Working Papers 111, The Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies, wiiw.
    17. Pasi Moisio & Kirsi-Marja Lehtelä & Susanna Mukkila, 2014. "Estimating the poverty reduction effect of tax and benefit policies in Finland 1993-2013 using a microsimulation method," ImPRovE Working Papers 14/06, Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp.
    18. Jaan Masso & K. Espenberg & Anu Masso & I. Mierina & Kaia Philips, 2013. "GINI Country Report: Growing Inequalities and their Impacts in the Baltic States Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania," GINI Country Reports baltics, AIAS, Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies.

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