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A Model-Based Evaluation of the Debate on the Size of the Tax Multiplier

  • Ryan Chahrour
  • Stephanie Schmitt-Grohé
  • Martín Uribe

The SVAR and narrative approaches to estimating tax multipliers deliver significantly different results. The former yields multipliers of about 1 percent, whereas the latter produces much larger multipliers of about 3 percent. The SVAR and narrative approaches differ along two important dimensions: the identification scheme and the reduced-form transmission mechanism. This paper uses a DSGE-model approach to evaluate the hypothesis that the different tax multipliers stemming from the SVAR and narrative approaches are due to differences in the assumed reduced-form transmission mechanisms. The main finding of the paper is that in the context of the DSGE model employed this hypothesis is rejected. Instead, the observed differences in estimated multipliers are due either to both models failing to identify the same tax shock, or to small-sample uncertainty.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16169.

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Date of creation: Jul 2010
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Ryan Chahrour & Stephanie Schmitt-Grohe & Martin Uribe, 2012. "A Model-Based Evaluation of the Debate on the Size of the Tax Multiplier," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 4(2), pages 28-45, May.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16169
Note: EFG PE
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  1. Schmitt-Grohé, Stephanie & Uribe, Martín, 2010. "Business Cycles With A Common Trend in Neutral and Investment-Specific Productivity," CEPR Discussion Papers 7878, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Karel Mertens & Morten Ravn, 2010. "Empirical Evidence on the Aggregate Effects of Anticipated and Unanticipated U.S. Tax Policy Shocks," NBER Working Papers 16289, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Mertens, Karel & Ravn, Morten O, 2009. "Understanding the Aggregate Effects of Anticipated and Unanticipated Tax Policy Shocks," CEPR Discussion Papers 7505, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Favero, Carlo A. & Giavazzi, Francesco, 2010. "Reconciling VAR-based and Narrative Measures of the Tax-Multiplier," CEPR Discussion Papers 7769, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Olivier Blanchard & Roberto Perotti, 1999. "An Empirical Characterization of the Dynamic Effects of Changes in Government Spending and Taxes on Output," NBER Working Papers 7269, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Christina D. Romer & David H. Romer, 2007. "The Macroeconomic Effects of Tax Changes: Estimates Based on a New Measure of Fiscal Shocks," NBER Working Papers 13264, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Karel Mertens & Morten Overgaard Ravn, 2010. "Online Appendix to "Understanding the Aggregate Effects of Anticipated and Unanticipated Tax Policy Shocks"," Technical Appendices 09-221, Review of Economic Dynamics.
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