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Public debt and the limits of fiscal policy to increase economic growth

  • Teles, Vladimir Kühl
  • Mussolini, Caio Cesar

Research that seeks to estimate the effects of fiscal policies on economic growth has ignored the role of public debt in this relationship. This study proposes a theoretical model of endogenous growth, which demonstrates that the level of the public debt-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio should negatively impact the effect of fiscal policy on growth. This occurs because government indebtedness extracts part of the savings of the young to pay interest on the debts of the older generation, who are no longer saving. Therefore, the payment of debt interest assumes an allocation exchange role between generations that is similar to a pay-as-you-go pension system, which results in changes in the savings rate of the economy. The major conclusions of the theoretical model were tested using an econometric model to provide evidence for the validity of this conclusion. Our empirical analysis controls for timeinvariant, country-specific heterogeneity in the growth rates. We also address endogeneity issues and allow for heterogeneity across countries in the model parameters and for cross-sectional dependence.

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Paper provided by Escola de Economia de São Paulo, Getulio Vargas Foundation (Brazil) in its series Textos para discussão with number 304.

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Date of creation: 30 Nov 2011
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Handle: RePEc:fgv:eesptd:304
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