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Public Finance, Economic Growth and Inequality: A Survey of the Evidence

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  • Åsa Johansson
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    This paper reviews the key issues concerning the impact of public spending and taxation on long-run growth and inequality and takes stock of existing theoretical and empirical studies. Overall, the evidence highlights that the size of the government matters for long-term growth as a too large government may undermine growth through the cost of financing public spending. A reallocation of public spending towards infrastructure and education would raise income in the long run, whereas increasing social welfare spending can reduce inequality as such spending increases redistribution and risk sharing. Similarly, the available evidence also supports the hypothesis that some taxes are more distortionary than others, with income taxes found to be more harmful for growth than consumption and property taxes. However, a tax shift from income towards consumption taxes has equity implications, since income taxes are generally more progressive than other taxes. The effect of a reallocation of spending and taxes on growth and inequality likely varies across countries depending on country characteristics. Finances publiques, croissance économique et inégalités : Une revue de littérature Ce rapport examine les principales questions liées à l’impact des dépenses publiques et de la fiscalité sur la croissance à long terme et les inégalités, et fait le point sur les études théoriques et empiriques déjà publiées. Il ressort de ces publications que la taille du secteur public exerce une influence sur la croissance à long terme, dans la mesure où un secteur public trop important peut freiner la croissance en raison de la charge financière qu’il représente. La réaffectation des dépenses publiques au financement des infrastructures et de l’éducation peut avoir un effet bénéfique sur le revenu à long terme, tandis que l’augmentation des dépenses allouées à la protection sociale peut contribuer à résorber les inégalités en favorisant la redistribution et la mutualisation des risques. Ces études corroborent en outre l’hypothèse selon laquelle certains impôts génèrent davantage de distorsions que d’autres : il est ainsi attesté que les impôts sur le revenu pèsent davantage sur la croissance que les impôts sur la consommation ou la propriété. Néanmoins, un transfert de la charge fiscale du revenu vers la consommation a des implications en termes d’équité, étant donné que les impôts sur le revenu sont généralement plus progressifs que les autres. Les conséquences qu’aurait, sur la croissance et les inégalités, une réaffectation des dépenses et des impôts varient selon les pays, en fonction des caractéristiques de chacun.

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    Paper provided by OECD Publishing in its series OECD Economics Department Working Papers with number 1346.

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    Date of creation: 15 Dec 2016
    Handle: RePEc:oec:ecoaaa:1346-en
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