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Progressive Taxation, Macroeconomic Stabilization and efficiency in Europe

  • Carlos Martinez-Mongay
  • Khalid Sekkat

The paper contributes to the debate on the stability/efficiency tradeoff of automatic stabilizers. A simple AD-AS two-country model is presented and illustrates circumstances where a reduction in taxes can foster stabilization. The testable implication from the model is that tax cuts can either increase or decrease volatility depending on the structure of the taxation system. Hence, lowering taxes for efficiency purposes may have not cost in terms of stabilization. This implication is tested for OECD countries over the period 1960-2000 taking account of the endogeneity and omitted variables issues identified in the literature. We found acceptably robust evidence that the size of governments in OECD countries has played a stabilizing role for both output and inflation. However, the relationship between government size and macroeconomic stability is not linear. The composition of public finances, in particular the tax mix, matters for output and price volatility. Distorting taxes, namely taxes on labor, might have negative effects on macroeconomic stability. Consequently, the potential trade off between stability and flexibility might not exist.

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File URL: http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/publications/publication596_en.pdf
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Paper provided by Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission in its series European Economy - Economic Papers with number 233.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:euf:ecopap:0233
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  1. Dani Rodrik, 1998. "Why Do More Open Economies Have Bigger Governments?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(5), pages 997-1032, October.
  2. Sapir, Andre & Sekkat, Khalid, 2002. " Political Cycles, Fiscal Deficits, and Output Spillovers in Europe," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 111(1-2), pages 195-205, March.
  3. Fatás, Antonio & Mihov, Ilian, 1999. "Government Size and Automatic Stabilizers: International and Intranational Evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 2259, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. André Sapir, 2002. "EMU in the early years: differences and credibility," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/8134, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  5. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 1998. "The Size and Scope of Government: Comparative Politics with Rational Politicians," NBER Working Papers 6848, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Kneller, Richard & Bleaney, Michael F. & Gemmell, Norman, 1999. "Fiscal policy and growth: evidence from OECD countries," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(2), pages 171-190, November.
  7. Hairault, Jean-Olivier & Langot, Francois & Portier, Franck, 2001. "Efficiency and stabilization: reducing Harberger triangles and Okun gaps," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 70(2), pages 209-214, February.
  8. Khalid Sekkat & Marco Buti & Carlos Martinez-Mongay & Paul van den Noord, 2003. "Macroeconomic policy and structural reform: a conflict between stabilisation and flexibility?," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/7388, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  9. Li Wenli & Pierre -Daniel Sarte, 2004. "Progressive Taxation and Long-Run Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1705-1716, December.
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