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Societal Aging: Implications for Fiscal Policy

Author

Listed:
  • Alan J. Auerbach

    (Professor of Economics and Law, University of California, Berkeley (E-mail: auerbach@econ.berkeley.edu))

Abstract

This paper considers implications of population aging for the conduct of fiscal policy, grouping the issues into four areas, focusing on the impact of aging on: (1) the size of government budget imbalances; (2) the composition of government spending and government budget flexibility; (3) the composition of tax collections and the desirability of alternative tax systems; and (4) the effectiveness of fiscal policy as a tool for stabilization. Societal aging puts considerable stress put on public sector finances because of large, unfunded and age-based entitlement programs. Even if existing programs can be modified, a growing share of government budgets will be devoted to old-age entitlement programs, and both economics and politics suggest that this will reduce the flexibility of budget determinations. An aging population makes certain tax bases - in particular, consumption taxes, and wealth transfer taxes as well - more productive and efficient. The consequences of aging are less clear as to stabilization policy, both with respect to the effectiveness of automatic stabilizers and the ability of government to take effective discretionary actions.

Suggested Citation

  • Alan J. Auerbach, 2012. "Societal Aging: Implications for Fiscal Policy," IMES Discussion Paper Series 12-E-12, Institute for Monetary and Economic Studies, Bank of Japan.
  • Handle: RePEc:ime:imedps:12-e-12
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    File URL: http://www.imes.boj.or.jp/research/papers/english/12-E-12.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Cooley, Thomas F. & Soares, Jorge, 1996. "Will social security survive the baby boom?," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 89-121, December.
    2. Alan L. Gustman & Thomas L. Steinmeier & Nahid Tabatabai, 2011. "How Did the Recession of 2007-2009 Affect the Wealth and Retirement of the Near Retirement Age Population in the Health and Retirement Study?," NBER Working Papers 17547, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Auerbach,Alan J. & Lee,Ronald D. (ed.), 2001. "Demographic Change and Fiscal Policy," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521662444, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Tae-Jeong Kim & Mihye Lee & Robert Dekle, 2014. "The Impact of Population Aging on the Countercyclical Fiscal Stance in Korea, with a Focus on the Automatic Stabilizer," Working Papers 2014-21, Economic Research Institute, Bank of Korea.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    deficits; fiscal imbalances; tax reform; political economy; stabilization policy;

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H62 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Deficit; Surplus

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