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Population Ageing and the Efficiency of Fiscal Policy in New Zealand

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Abstract

New Zealand’s ageing population is expected to have a significant impact on long-term government expenditure, particularly in the areas of health and superannuation. Recent projections from Treasury’s Long-Term Fiscal Model suggest that, under current policy settings, government expenditure (excluding financing costs) will increase by approximately seven percentage points of GDP by 2050. From the perspective of economic efficiency, we consider several methods for financing that expenditure. We find that tax smoothing is significantly more efficient, from a welfare perspective, than balancing the budget. This result is primarily due to our assumption that the assets accumulated under tax smoothing earn an average return over the government’s cost of borrowing. This excess return is not without risk. By modelling asset returns and economic growth in a stochastic manner we find that tax smoothing with a diversified portfolio of financial instruments may also reduce year-on-year tax rate volatility. Introducing practical considerations, in particular expenditure creep (where additional government spending is triggered by an improving balance sheet position), tips the scales in favour of a balanced budget approach. Hence, strong fiscal institutions are a prerequisite for achieving the welfare gains from tax smoothing.

Suggested Citation

  • Nick Davis & Richard Fabling, 2002. "Population Ageing and the Efficiency of Fiscal Policy in New Zealand," Treasury Working Paper Series 02/11, New Zealand Treasury.
  • Handle: RePEc:nzt:nztwps:02/11
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    File URL: http://www.treasury.govt.nz/publications/research-policy/wp/2002/02-11/twp02-11.pdf
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    5. Killingsworth, Mark R. & Heckman, James J., 1987. "Female labor supply: A survey," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & R. Layard (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 2, pages 103-204 Elsevier.
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    7. Barro, Robert J, 1979. "On the Determination of the Public Debt," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 940-971, October.
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    9. Alberto Alesina & Roberto Perotti, 1994. "The Political Economy of Budget Deficits," NBER Working Papers 4637, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Pencavel, John, 1987. "Labor supply of men: A survey," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & R. Layard (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 1, pages 3-102 Elsevier.
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    12. Thai-Thanh Dang & Pablo Antolín & Howard Oxley, 2001. "Fiscal Implications of Ageing: Projections of Age-Related Spending," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 305, OECD Publishing.
    13. David M. Cutler & James M. Poterba & Louise M. Sheiner & Lawrence H. Summers, 1990. "An Aging Society: Opportunity or Challenge?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 21(1), pages 1-74.
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    15. John Woods, 2000. "Manual for the Long Term Fiscal Model," Treasury Working Paper Series 00/02, New Zealand Treasury.
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    Cited by:

    1. Christopher Ball & John Creedy & Grant Scobie, 2015. "Long-run Fiscal Projections under Uncertainty: The Case of New Zealand," Treasury Working Paper Series 15/10, New Zealand Treasury.
    2. Christopher Ball & John Creedy, 2014. "Tax policy with uncertain future costs: Some simple models," New Zealand Economic Papers, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 48(2), pages 240-253, August.
    3. John Creedy & Grant Scobie, 2017. "Debt projections and fiscal sustainability with feedback effects," New Zealand Economic Papers, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 51(3), pages 237-261, September.
    4. John Creedy & Kathleen Makale, 2014. "Social expenditure in New Zealand: Stochastic projections," New Zealand Economic Papers, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 48(2), pages 196-208, August.
    5. John Creedy & Grant M Scobie, 2002. "Population Ageing and Social Expenditure in New Zealand: Stochastic Projections," Treasury Working Paper Series 02/28, New Zealand Treasury.
    6. Ananda Jayawickrama & Tilak Abeysinghe, 2013. "The experience of some OECD economies on tax smoothing," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 45(16), pages 2305-2313, June.
    7. Ross Guest, 2013. "Intergenerational Smoothing of New Zealand’s Future Fiscal Costs," Treasury Working Paper Series 13/12, New Zealand Treasury.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Public Finance; Tax Smoothing; Balanced Budget; Demographics; and Deadweight Loss;

    JEL classification:

    • H30 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - General
    • H60 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - General

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