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Fiscal Reform and Government Debt in Japan: A Neoclassical Perspective

Author

Listed:
  • 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))

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Gary D. Hansen & Selahattin Imrohoroglu, 2013. "Fiscal Reform and Government Debt in Japan: A Neoclassical Perspective," IMES Discussion Paper Series 13-E-10, Institute for Monetary and Economic Studies, Bank of Japan.
  • Handle: RePEc:ime:imedps:13-e-10
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    File URL: http://www.imes.boj.or.jp/research/papers/english/13-E-10.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Selahattin Imrohoroglu & Ayse Imrohoroglu & Kaiji Chen, 2006. "The Japanese Saving Rate," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1850-1858, December.
    2. 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.
    3. Fumio Hayashi & Edward C. Prescott, 2004. "The 1990s in Japan: a lost decade," Chapters,in: The Economics of an Ageing Population, chapter 2 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    4. Imrohoroglu, Selahattin & Sudo, Nao, 2011. "Will a Growth Miracle Reduce Debt in Japan?," Economic Review, Hitotsubashi University, vol. 62(1), pages 44-56, January.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
    8. Selahattin İmrohoroğlu & Sagiri Kitao & Tomoaki Yamada, 2016. "Achieving Fiscal Balance In Japan," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 57, pages 117-154, February.
    9. 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.
    10. 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.
    11. Takeo Hoshi & Takatoshi Ito, 2014. "Defying gravity: can Japanese sovereign debt continue to increase without a crisis?," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 29(77), pages 5-44, January.
    12. Selo Imrohoroglu & Kaiji Chen & Ayse Imrohoroglu, 2005. "Japanese Saving Rate," 2005 Meeting Papers 747, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    13. Kenneth H Kang & Michael Keen & Mahmood Pradhan & Ruud A. de Mooij, 2011. "Raising the Consumption Tax in Japan; Why, When, How?," IMF Staff Discussion Notes 11/13, International Monetary Fund.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Nao Sudo & Yasutaka Takizuka, 2018. "Population Aging and the Real Interest Rate in the Last and Next 50 Years -- A tale told by an Overlapping Generations Model --," Bank of Japan Working Paper Series 18-E-1, Bank of Japan.
    2. Dave, Chetan & Ghate, Chetan & Gopalakrishnan, Pawan & Tarafdar, Suchismita, 2018. "Fiscal Austerity in Emerging Market Economies," MPRA Paper 87086, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. repec:eee:jjieco:v:46:y:2017:i:c:p:17-26 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Selahattin Imrohoroglu, 2017. "Replacing Income Taxation with Consumption Taxation in Japan," CIGS Working Paper Series 17-008E, The Canon Institute for Global Studies.
    5. George Kudrna & Chung Tran & Alan Woodland, 2015. "Facing Demographic Challenges: Pension Cuts or Tax Hikes," ANU Working Papers in Economics and Econometrics 2015-626, Australian National University, College of Business and Economics, School of Economics.
    6. Sagiri Kitao, 2017. "When do we Start? Pension reform in ageing Japan," The Japanese Economic Review, Japanese Economic Association, vol. 68(1), pages 26-47, March.
    7. repec:bla:ecinqu:v:55:y:2017:i:3:p:1287-1307 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Oulton, Nicholas, 2013. "Medium and long run prospects for UK growth in the aftermathof the financial crisis," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 58239, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    9. Nutahara, Kengo, 2015. "Laffer curves in Japan," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 56-72.
    10. Nakajima, Tomoyuki & Takahashi, Shuhei, 2017. "The optimum quantity of debt for Japan," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 17-26.
    11. Lilia Maliar & Serguei Maliar & John Taylor & Inna Tsener, 2015. "A Tractable Framework for Analyzing a Class of Nonstationary Markov Models," NBER Working Papers 21155, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Serguei Maliar & John Taylor & Lilia Maliar, 2016. "The Impact of Alternative Transitions to Normalized Monetary Policy," 2016 Meeting Papers 794, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    13. repec:eee:macchp:v2-2493 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. repec:eee:jjieco:v:48:y:2018:i:c:p:15-28 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. repec:red:issued:16-328 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. KITAO Sagiri, 2016. "Policy Uncertainty and the Cost of Delaying Reform: A case of aging Japan," Discussion papers 16013, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
    17. Tomomi Miyazaki & Kazuki Onji, 2017. "The Sustainability of Japan's Government Debt: A Review," Discussion Papers 1716, Graduate School of Economics, Kobe University.
    18. Braun, R. Anton & Joines, Douglas H., 2015. "The implications of a graying Japan for government policy," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 1-23.
    19. Selahattin Imrohoroglu & Gary Hansen, 2017. "Replacing Income Taxation with Consumption Taxation in Japan," 2017 Meeting Papers 1114, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    20. Selahattin İmrohoroğlu & Sagiri Kitao & Tomoaki Yamada, 2017. "Can Guest Workers Solve Japan'S Fiscal Problems?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 55(3), pages 1287-1307, July.
    21. McNelis, Paul D. & Yoshino, Naoyuki, 2016. "Finding stability in a time of prolonged crisis: Unconventional policy rules for Japan," Journal of Financial Stability, Elsevier, vol. 27(C), pages 122-136.
    22. repec:eee:japwor:v:42:y:2017:i:c:p:12-22 is not listed on IDEAS
    23. Tanweer Akram & Huiqing Li, 2018. "The Dynamics of Japanese Government Bonds' Nominal Yields," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_906, Levy Economics Institute.
    24. Koichi Futagami & Kunihiko Konishi, 2018. "Dynamic Analysis of Budget Policy Rules in Japan," Bank of Japan Working Paper Series 18-E-3, Bank of Japan.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Government debt; fiscal policy; aging; Japan;

    JEL classification:

    • E2 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H6 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt

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