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How to Achieve Growth- and Equity-friendly Fiscal Consolidation?: A Proposed Methodology for Instrument Choice with an Illustrative Application to OECD Countries

  • Boris Cournède
  • Antoine Goujard
  • Álvaro Pina

Despite sustained efforts made in recent years to rein in budget deficits, a majority of OECD countries still face substantial fiscal consolidation needs. The choices made about which spending areas to curtail and which taxes to hike will have implications for near-term activity and long-term growth as well as for equity and the current account. This paper proposes a method for choosing the instruments of consolidation so that they contribute to -- or minimise trade-offs with -- the goals of promoting near-term activity, longterm growth, equity, and global rebalancing. The proposed method is illustrated with detailed simulations for 31 OECD countries which are accompanied by an extensive range of alternative scenarios to confirm the robustness of the findings. The simulations highlight that half of OECD countries can reduce excess debt mainly through moderate adjustments to instruments (such as subsidies, pensions or property taxes) that have at most limited side-effects on other policy objectives. They also show that a smaller number of countries face more difficult choices, having to either make bigger adjustments in areas where spending cuts or tax hikes are least harmful or to rely significantly on consolidation instruments with substantial adverse side-effects. These trade-offs can to a large extent be alleviated through structural reforms in the delivery of public services and in taxation. Comment concilier assainissement budgétaire, croissance et équité ? : Une méthode proposée pour choisir les instruments d'assainissement accompagnée d'un exemple d'application aux pays de l'OCDE Malgré les efforts importants qu’ils ont fournis au cours des dernières années pour réduire les deficits, une majorité des pays de l’OCDE continue de faire face à de larges besoins d’assainissement budgétaire. Les choix effectués s’agissant de la nature des dépenses à réduire et des impôts à augmenter auront des conséquences pour l’activité à court terme, pour la croissance à long terme aussi bien que pour l’équité et le compte courant. Ce document propose une méthode permettant de choisir les instruments de l’assainissement de telles sorte qu’ils soient aussi compatibles que possible avec les objectifs de promouvoir l’activité à court terme, la croissa nce à long terme, l’équité et le rééquilibrage économique équilibres mondial. La méthode proposée est illustrée par une série de simulations détaillées couvrant 31 pays de l’OCDE qui sont accompagnées d’une vaste gamme de scénarios alternatifs afin de vérifier la robustesse des résultats. Les simulations soulignent que la moitié des pays de l’OCDE peuvent réduire leur excès de dette principalement au moyen d’instruments (tels que les subventions, les pensions ou les taxes foncières) qui ont au plus des effets secondaires limités sur les autres objectifs de politique publique. Elles montrent aussi qu’un plus petit nombre de pays de l’OCDE sont confrontés à un choix plus difficile, ayant soit à fournir des efforts plus importants dans les domaines où la réduction des dépenses ou la hausse des taxes sont les moins dommageables, soit à s’appuyer fortement sur les instruments d’assainissement entraînant de notables effets secondaires. Ces arbitrages difficiles peuvent être atténués au moyen de réformes structurelles permettant d’améliorer l’efficacité de la dépense publique et du système fiscal.

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Paper provided by OECD Publishing in its series OECD Economics Department Working Papers with number 1088.

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Date of creation: 01 Oct 2013
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Handle: RePEc:oec:ecoaaa:1088-en
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