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The Effects of Fiscal Consolidations: Theory and Evidence

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  • Alberto Alesina
  • Omar Barbiero
  • Carlo Favero
  • Francesco Giavazzi
  • Matteo Paradisi

Abstract

We investigate the macroeconomic effects of fiscal consolidations based upon government spending cuts, transfers cuts and tax hikes. We extend a narrative dataset of fiscal consolidations, with details on over 3500 measures for 16 OECD countries. We show that government spending cuts and cuts in transfers are much less harmful than tax hikes, despite the fact that non-distortionary transfers are not classified as spending. Standard New Keynesian models robustly match our results when fiscal shocks are persistent. Wealth effects on aggregate demand mitigate the impact of a persistent spending cut. Static distortions caused by persistent tax hikes cause larger shifts in aggregate supply under sticky prices.

Suggested Citation

  • Alberto Alesina & Omar Barbiero & Carlo Favero & Francesco Giavazzi & Matteo Paradisi, 2017. "The Effects of Fiscal Consolidations: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 23385, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23385
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    Cited by:

    1. Aizenman, Joshua & Jinjarak, Yothin & Nguyen, Hien Thi Kim & Park, Donghyun, 2018. "Fiscal space and government-spending & tax-rate cyclicality patterns: A cross-country comparison, 1960-2016," Working Paper Series 7656, Victoria University of Wellington, School of Economics and Finance.
    2. Pedro Brinca & Miguel H. Ferreira & Francesco Franco & Hans A. Holter & Laurence Malafry, 2021. "Fiscal Consolidation Programs And Income Inequality," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 62(1), pages 405-460, February.
    3. Era Dabla-Norris & Frederico Lima, 2018. "Macroeconomic Effects of Tax Rate and Base Changes: Evidence from Fiscal Consolidations," IMF Working Papers 2018/220, International Monetary Fund.
    4. Alberto Alesina & Gualtiero Azzalini & Carlo Favero & Francesco Giavazzi & Armando Miano, 2018. "Is it the “How” or the “When” that Matters in Fiscal Adjustments?," IMF Economic Review, Palgrave Macmillan;International Monetary Fund, vol. 66(1), pages 144-188, March.
    5. Thibault Lemaire, 2020. "Fiscal Consolidations and Informality in Latin America and the Caribbean," Post-Print halshs-02492309, HAL.
    6. Pierluigi Balduzzi & Emanuele Brancati & Marco Brianti & Fabio Schiantarelli, 2019. "Populism, Political Risk and the Economy: Lessons from Italy," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 989, Boston College Department of Economics, revised 28 Apr 2020.
    7. Sanz, Carlos & Gonzalo Muñoz, Jesus & Alloza, Mario, 2019. "Dynamic Effects of Persistent Shocks," UC3M Working papers. Economics 29187, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Departamento de Economía.
    8. Alessi, Lucia & Benczur, Peter & Campolongo, Francesca & Cariboni, Jessica & Manca, Anna Rita & Menyhert, Balint & Pagano, Andrea, 2018. "The resilience of EU Member States to the financial and economic crisis. What are the characteristics of resilient behaviour?," JRC Working Papers JRC111606, Joint Research Centre (Seville site).
    9. Austen-Smith, David & Dziuda, Wioletta & Harstad, Bård & Loeper, Antoine, 2019. "Gridlock and inefficient policy instruments," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 14(4).
    10. Briganti, Edoardo & Favero, Carlo A. & Karamysheva, Madina, 2018. "The Network Effects of Fiscal Adjustments," CEPR Discussion Papers 13017, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    11. Alberto Alesina & Carlo Favero & Francesco Giavazzi, 2019. "Effects of Austerity: Expenditure- and Tax-Based Approaches," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 33(2), pages 141-162, Spring.
    12. David Amaglobeli & Valerio Crispolti & Era Dabla-Norris & Pooja Karnane & Florian Misch, 2018. "Tax Policy Measures in Advanced and Emerging Economies: A Novel Database," IMF Working Papers 2018/110, International Monetary Fund.
    13. Ağca, Şenay & Igan, Deniz, 2019. "Fiscal consolidations and the cost of credit," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 84-108.
    14. Klaus Gründler & Niklas Potrafke, 2019. "Ideologically-charged terminology: austerity, fiscal consolidation, and sustainable governance," CESifo Working Paper Series 7613, CESifo.
    15. Efrem Castelnuovo & Guay Lim, 2019. "What Do We Know About the Macroeconomic Effects of Fiscal Policy? A Brief Survey of the Literature on Fiscal Multipliers," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 52(1), pages 78-93, March.
    16. Ferraro, Domenico & Peretto, Pietro F., 2020. "Innovation-led growth in a time of debt," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 121(C).
    17. Grancini, Stefano, 2021. "Risk Aversion and Fiscal Consolidation Programs," MPRA Paper 105500, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    18. Aizenman, Joshua & Jinjarak, Yothin & Nguyen, Hien Thi Kim & Park, Donghyun, 2019. "Fiscal space and government-spending and tax-rate cyclicality patterns: A cross-country comparison, 1960–2016," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 229-252.
    19. Panagiotis Palaios & Evangelia Papapetrou, 2019. "Asymmetric dynamics in the social contributions and social benefits nexus in Greece," Economic Change and Restructuring, Springer, vol. 52(4), pages 327-349, November.
    20. Rodrigo Octávio Orair & Sergio Wulff Gobetti, 2017. "Brazilian fiscal policy in perspective: from expansion to austerity," Working Papers 160, International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth.
    21. Beetsma, Roel & Furtuna, Oana & Giuliodori, Massimo, 2017. "Revenue- versus spending-based consolidation plans: the role of follow-up," CEPR Discussion Papers 12133, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    22. Adriano dos Reis M. Laureno Oliveira & Gilberto Tadeu Lima, Laura Carvalho, 2018. "Of Fairies and Governments: An ABM Evaluation of the Expansionary Austerity Hypothesis," Working Papers, Department of Economics 2018_13, University of São Paulo (FEA-USP).
    23. Armand Fouejieu & Sergio Rodriguez & Sohaib Shahid, 2018. "Fiscal Adjustment in the Gulf Countries: Less Costly than Previously Thought," IMF Working Papers 2018/133, International Monetary Fund.
    24. Yan Carriere-Swallow & Antonio David & Daniel Leigh, 2018. "The Macroeconomic Effects of Fiscal Consolidation in Emerging Economies: Evidence from Latin America," IMF Working Papers 2018/142, International Monetary Fund.

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    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H60 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - General

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