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Large Changes in Fiscal Policy: Taxes Versus Spending

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  • Alberto F. Alesina
  • Silvia Ardagna

Abstract

We examine the evidence on episodes of large stances in fiscal policy, both in cases of fiscal stimuli and in that of fiscal adjustments in OECD countries from 1970 to 2007. Fiscal stimuli based upon tax cuts are more likely to increase growth than those based upon spending increases. As for fiscal adjustments, those based upon spending cuts and no tax increases are more likely to reduce deficits and debt over GDP ratios than those based upon tax increases. In addition, adjustments on the spending side rather than on the tax side are less likely to create recessions. We confirm these results with simple regression analysis.

Suggested Citation

  • Alberto F. Alesina & Silvia Ardagna, 2009. "Large Changes in Fiscal Policy: Taxes Versus Spending," NBER Working Papers 15438, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15438
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    1. von Hagen, Jurgen & Hughes Hallett, Andrew & Strauch, Rolf, 2002. "Budgetary Consolidation in Europe: Quality, Economic Conditions, and Persistence," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 16(4), pages 512-535, December.
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    3. Alberto Alesina & Silvia Ardagna & Roberto Perotti & Fabio Schiantarelli, 2002. "Fiscal Policy, Profits, and Investment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(3), pages 571-589, June.
    4. 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.
    5. Lambertini, Luisa & Tavares, Jose, 2002. "Exchange Rates and Fiscal Adjustments: Evidence from the OECD and Implications for EMU," FEUNL Working Paper Series wp412, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Faculdade de Economia.
    6. Christina D. Romer & David H. Romer, 2010. "The Macroeconomic Effects of Tax Changes: Estimates Based on a New Measure of Fiscal Shocks," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(3), pages 763-801, June.
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    9. 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.
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    11. Ardagna, Silvia, 2004. "Fiscal Stabilizations: When Do They Work and Why," Scholarly Articles 2580047, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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    13. 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.
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    JEL classification:

    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • H3 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents

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