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Fiscal Adjustments in OECD Countries; Composition and Macroeconomic Effects


  • Alberto Alesina
  • Roberto Perotti


This paper studies how the composition of fiscal adjustments influences their likelihood of “success”, defined as a long lasting deficit reduction, and their macroeconomic consequences. We find that fiscal adjustments which rely primarily on spending cuts on transfers and the government wage bill have a better chance of being successful and are expansionary. On the contrary fiscal adjustments which rely primarily on tax increases and cuts in public investment tend not to last and are contractionary. We discuss alterative explanations for these findings by studying both a full sample of OECD countries and by focusing on three case studies: Denmark, Ireland and Italy.

Suggested Citation

  • Alberto Alesina & Roberto Perotti, 1996. "Fiscal Adjustments in OECD Countries; Composition and Macroeconomic Effects," IMF Working Papers 96/70, International Monetary Fund.
  • Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:96/70

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jeffrey M. Davis & A. Cheasty, 1996. "Fiscal Transition in Countries of the Former Soviet Union; An Interim Assessment," IMF Working Papers 96/61, International Monetary Fund.
    2. Bertola, Giuseppe & Drazen, Allan, 1993. "Trigger Points and Budget Cuts: Explaining the Effects of Fiscal Austerity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(1), pages 11-26, March.
    3. C. John McDermott & Robert F. Wescott, 1996. "An Empirical Analysis of Fiscal Adjustments," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 43(4), pages 725-753, December.
    4. Francesco Giavazzi & Marco Pagano, 1995. "Non-Keynesian Effects of Fiscal Policy Changes: International Evidence and the Swedish Experience," NBER Working Papers 5332, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Aleh Tsyvinski & Martin Petri & Günther Taube, 2002. "Energy Sector Quasi-Fiscal Activities in the Countries of the Former Soviet Union," IMF Working Papers 02/60, International Monetary Fund.
    6. Sutherland, Alan, 1997. "Fiscal crises and aggregate demand: can high public debt reverse the effects of fiscal policy?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 147-162, August.
    7. Giavazzi, Francesco & Jappelli, Tullio & Pagano, Marco, 2000. "Searching for non-linear effects of fiscal policy: Evidence from industrial and developing countries," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(7), pages 1259-1289, June.
    8. Sanjeev Gupta & Luc Leruth & Luiz de Mello & Shamit Chakravarti, 2003. "Transition Economies: How Appropriate is the Size and Scope of Government?," Comparative Economic Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Association for Comparative Economic Studies, vol. 45(4), pages 554-576, December.
    9. Kornai Janos, 1994. "Transformational Recession: The Main Causes," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 39-63, August.
    10. Michael Gavin & Roberto Perotti, 1997. "Fiscal Policy in Latin America," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1997, Volume 12, pages 11-72 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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