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Fiscal Reform and Government Debt in Japan: A Neoclassical Perspective

  • Gary D. Hansen

    (University of California, Los Angeles (E-mail: ghansen@econ.ucla.edu))

  • Selahattin Imrohoroglu

    (University of Southern California (E-mail: selo@ marshall.usc.edu))

Past government spending in Japan is currently imposing a significant fiscal burden that is reflected in a net debt to output ratio near 150 percent. In addition, the aging of Japanese society implies that public expenditures and transfers payments relative to output are projected to continue to rise until at least 2050. In this paper we use a standard growth model to measure the size of this burden in the form of additional taxes required to finance these projected expenditures and to stabilize government debt. The fiscal adjustment needed is very large, in the range of 30-40% of total consumption expenditures. Using a distorting tax such as the consumption tax or the labor income tax requires either tax to rise to unprecedented highs, although the former is much less distorting than the latter. The extremely high tax rates we find highlight the importance of considering alternatives that attenuate the projected increases in public spending and/or enlarge the tax base.

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Paper provided by Institute for Monetary and Economic Studies, Bank of Japan in its series IMES Discussion Paper Series with number 13-E-10.

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Date of creation: Oct 2013
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Handle: RePEc:ime:imedps:13-e-10
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  1. Selahattin Imrohoroglu & Nao Sudo, 2011. "Will a Growth Miracle Reduce Debt in Japan?," IMES Discussion Paper Series 11-E-01, Institute for Monetary and Economic Studies, Bank of Japan.
  2. Tomoaki Yamada & Sagiri Kitao & Selahattin Imrohoroglu, 2013. "Achieving Fiscal Balance in Japan," 2013 Meeting Papers 736, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  3. Kaiji Chen & Ayse Imrohoroglu & Selo Imrohoroglu, 2005. "Japanese Saving Rate," Macroeconomics 0502017, EconWPA.
  4. Selahattin Imrohoroglu & Ayse Imrohoroglu & Kaiji Chen, 2006. "The Japanese Saving Rate," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1850-1858, December.
  5. Fumio Hayashi & Edward C. Prescott, 2002. "The 1990s in Japan: A Lost Decade," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 5(1), pages 206-235, January.
  6. Doi, Takero & Hoshi, Takeo & Okimoto, Tatsuyoshi, 2011. "Japanese government debt and sustainability of fiscal policy," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 25(4), pages 414-433.
  7. Raj Chetty & Adam Guren & Day Manoli & Andrea Weber, 2013. "Does Indivisible Labor Explain the Difference between Micro and Macro Elasticities? A Meta-Analysis of Extensive Margin Elasticities," NBER Macroeconomics Annual, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(1), pages 1 - 56.
  8. Selahattin Imrohoroglu & Nao Sudo, 2011. "Productivity and Fiscal Policy in Japan: Short-Term Forecasts from the Standard Growth Model," Monetary and Economic Studies, Institute for Monetary and Economic Studies, Bank of Japan, vol. 29, pages 73-106, November.
  9. Takeo Hoshi & Takatoshi Ito, 2012. "Defying Gravity: How Long Will Japanese Government Bond Prices Remain High?," NBER Working Papers 18287, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Masaya Sakuragawa & Kaoru Hosono, 2010. "Fiscal Sustainability Of Japan: A Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium Approach," The Japanese Economic Review, Japanese Economic Association, vol. 61(4), pages 517-537, December.
  11. Gunji, Hiroshi & Miyazaki, Kenji, 2011. "Estimates of average marginal tax rates on factor incomes in Japan," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 81-106, June.
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