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Are Italy's public finances sustainable? The role of demographics, productivity, and labour markets


  • Paolo Biraschi
  • Lorenzo Codogno


  • Federico Giammusso
  • Manuela Nenna
  • Juan Pradelli


In light of the uncertainty of the effects of population ageing on growth and fiscal variables, it is sensible to ask whether Italy's public finances can achieve sustainability under the spending pressure exerted by future demographic and macroeconomic developments. The paper addresses this question by assessing long-term fiscal sustainability, following the commonlyagreed European methodology, under alternative scenarios considering a variety of issues that may have a bearing on Italy's public finance conditions, namely, immigration, life expectancy, female labour participation, and productivity growth. Despite the different hypotheses captured by the alternative scenarios, the paper finds that projected debt-to-GDP ratios decrease over time, as long as fiscal consolidation is achieved in the near future. It also shows a one-shot debt-reduction strategy is not a credible substitute for a budgetary-adjustment strategy. The paper concludes Italy's public finances are sustainable and can deal with future spending pressures resulting from the ageing population.

Suggested Citation

  • Paolo Biraschi & Lorenzo Codogno & Federico Giammusso & Manuela Nenna & Juan Pradelli, "undated". "Are Italy's public finances sustainable? The role of demographics, productivity, and labour markets," Working Papers wp2008-6, Department of the Treasury, Ministry of the Economy and of Finance.
  • Handle: RePEc:itt:wpaper:wp2008-6

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Cécile Denis & Daniel Grenouilleau & Kieran Mc Morrow & Werner Röger, 2006. "Calculating potential growth rates and output gaps - A revised production function approach," European Economy - Economic Papers 2008 - 2015 247, Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
    2. Francesco Giavazzi & Marco Pagano, 1990. "Can Severe Fiscal Contractions Be Expansionary? Tales of Two Small European Countries," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1990, Volume 5, pages 75-122 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Alfonso ARPAIA & Alessandro TURRINI, "undated". "Government Expenditure and Economic Growth in the EU: Long-Run Tendencies and Short-Term Adjustment," EcoMod2008 23800006, EcoMod.
    4. Giuseppe Carone & Declan Costello & Nuria Diez Guardia & Gilles Mourre & Bartosz Przywara & Aino Salomaki, 2005. "The economic impact of ageing populations in the EU25 Member States," European Economy - Economic Papers 2008 - 2015 236, Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
    5. Daniel Leigh & David Hauner & Michael Skaarup, 2007. "Ensuring Fiscal Sustainability in G-7 Countries," IMF Working Papers 07/187, International Monetary Fund.
    6. William G. Gale & Peter R. Orszag, 2004. "Budget Deficits, National Saving, and Interest Rates," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 35(2), pages 101-210.
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    More about this item


    Fiscal Sustainability; Fiscal Policy;

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H63 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Debt; Debt Management; Sovereign Debt
    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions


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