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Targeted Transfers and the Fiscal Response to the Great Recession

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  • Hyunseung Oh
  • Ricardo Reis

Abstract

Between 2007 and 2009, government expenditures increased rapidly across the OECD countries. While economic research on the impact of government purchases has flourished, in the data, about three quarters of the increase in expenditures in the United States (and more in other countries) was in government transfers. We document this fact, and show that the increase in U.S. spending on retirement, disability, and medical care has been as high as the increase in government purchases. We argue that future research should focus on the positive impact of transfers. Towards this, we present a model in which there is no representative agent and Ricardian equivalence does not hold because of uncertainty, imperfect credit markets, and nominal rigidities. Targeted lump-sum transfers are expansionary both because of a neoclassical wealth effect and because of a Keynesian aggregate demand effect.

Suggested Citation

  • Hyunseung Oh & Ricardo Reis, 2011. "Targeted Transfers and the Fiscal Response to the Great Recession," NBER Working Papers 16775, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16775
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
    • H5 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies

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