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Austria: Public Sector Inefficiencies Have Become Less Affordable


  • Karin Fischer

    (Ministry of Finance, Austria)

  • Rauf Gönenç


  • Robert W. R. Price


Performance of fiscal policy, while good in international comparison, is not sufficient to prepare for future ageing-related spending increases. Subject to macroeconomic developments, the pace of consolidation could be more ambitious than currently planned, with a view to reducing the debt burden below 60% of GDP by 2020. Austrian fiscal policies have tended to be pro-cyclical in upturns, mainly because spending was not adequately kept in check. Stronger fiscal rules and a reform of inter-governmental fiscal relations could help contain expenditure dynamics. Efficiency-raising reforms in key spending areas such as pensions and other social expenditures, health, and education are also highly needed to reduce spending and ensure the provision of high-quality public services at lower cost. In this regard, Austria should make full use of the performance budgeting framework it plans to introduce from 2013. Higher potential growth could also take off some of the pressure on public finances. There remains significant room to rebalance the tax structure towards less distortive sources of revenue, thus supporting employment and growth. Autriche : Les carences du secteur public sont de moins en moins supportables Les résultats de la politique budgétaire menée par les autorités autrichiennes sont bons par rapport à d’autres pays, mais insuffisants pour faire face aux augmentations des dépenses qui seront induites par le vieillissement de la population dans les années à venir. En tenant compte des développements macroéconomiques, le rythme d’assainissement pourrait être plus rapide que ce n’est actuellement le cas, de façon à ramener la dette au-dessous de 60 % du PIB d’ici 2020. Traditionnellement, la politique budgétaire en Autriche a toujours été procyclique au cours des phases ascendantes en raison d’une maîtrise insuffisante des dépenses. Le renforcement des règles budgétaires et la réforme des relations budgétaires entre administrations pourraient contribuer à endiguer la hausse des dépenses. De même, des réformes visant à accroître l’efficience des principales catégories de dépenses, comme les retraites et autres dépenses sociales, la santé et l’éducation sont indispensables pour freiner les dépenses et garantir des services publics de qualité à moindre coût. À cet égard, l’Autriche devrait recourir systématiquement au cadre de budgétisation dans l’optique des résultats qu’elle envisage de déployer en 2013. L’accélération de la croissance potentielle pourrait également soulager les tensions qui s’exercent sur les finances publiques. Il reste encore beaucoup à faire pour rééquilibrer la structure de la fiscalité au profit des sources de recettes provoquant le moins de distorsions, afin de soutenir l’emploi et la croissance.

Suggested Citation

  • Karin Fischer & Rauf Gönenç & Robert W. R. Price, 2011. "Austria: Public Sector Inefficiencies Have Become Less Affordable," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 897, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:ecoaaa:897-en

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hans Pitlik & Kristina Budimir & Norbert Gruber, 2010. "Options for Budget Consolidation on the Expenditure Side," Austrian Economic Quarterly, WIFO, vol. 15(2), pages 211-230, July.
    2. Doris Prammer, 2009. "Public Sector Outsourcing: Creative Accounting or a Sustainable Improvement? – A Case Study for Austria," Monetary Policy & the Economy, Oesterreichische Nationalbank (Austrian Central Bank), issue 1, pages 118-135.
    3. Douglas Sutherland & Robert W. R. Price & Isabelle Joumard & Chantal Nicq, 2007. "Performance Indicators for Public Spending Efficiency in Primary and Secondary Education," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 546, OECD Publishing.
    4. Gerhard Steger, 2010. "Austria's budget reform: How to create consensus for a decisive change of fiscal rules," OECD Journal on Budgeting, OECD Publishing, vol. 10(1), pages 1-14.
    5. Teresa Curristine & Zsuzsanna Lonti & Isabelle Joumard, 2007. "Improving Public Sector Efficiency: Challenges and Opportunities," OECD Journal on Budgeting, OECD Publishing, vol. 7(1), pages 1-41.
    6. Romain Bouis & Romain Duval, 2011. "Raising Potential Growth After the Crisis: A Quantitative Assessment of the Potential Gains from Various Structural Reforms in the OECD Area and Beyond," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 835, OECD Publishing.
    7. Andrés Fuentes & Eckhard Wurzel & Andreas Wörgötter, 2006. "Reforming Federal Fiscal Relations in Austria," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 474, OECD Publishing.
    8. Michael Böheim & Heinz Handler & Margit Schratzenstaller, 2010. "Options for Revenue-based Fiscal Consolidation," Austrian Economic Quarterly, WIFO, vol. 15(2), pages 231-244, July.
    9. Frédéric Gonand & Isabelle Joumard & Robert W. R. Price, 2007. "Public Spending Efficiency: Institutional Indicators in Primary and Secondary Education," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 543, OECD Publishing.
    10. Vincent Koen & Paul van den Noord, 2005. "Fiscal Gimmickry in Europe: One-Off Measures and Creative Accounting," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 417, OECD Publishing.
    11. Orsetta Causa, 2009. "The policy determinants of hours worked across OECD countries," OECD Journal: Economic Studies, OECD Publishing, vol. 2009(1), pages 1-39.
    12. Karl Aiginger & Hans Pitlik & Margit Schratzenstaller, 2010. "Options for the Consolidation of Public Budgets in Austria," Austrian Economic Quarterly, WIFO, vol. 15(2), pages 184-197, July.
    13. Margit Schratzenstaller, 2011. "Draft Federal Budget for 2011 Takes First Steps Towards Consolidation," Austrian Economic Quarterly, WIFO, vol. 16(1), pages 35-56, March.
    14. Jens Arnold, 2008. "Do Tax Structures Affect Aggregate Economic Growth?: Empirical Evidence from a Panel of OECD Countries," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 643, OECD Publishing.
    15. Nicolas Albacete & Karin Wagner, 2009. "Housing Finance of Austrian Households," Monetary Policy & the Economy, Oesterreichische Nationalbank (Austrian Central Bank), issue 3, pages 62-92.
    16. Åsa Johansson & Chistopher Heady & Jens Arnold & Bert Brys & Laura Vartia, 2008. "Taxation and Economic Growth," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 620, OECD Publishing.
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    Cited by:

    1. Rauf Gönenç & Oliver Röhn & Christian Beer & Andreas Wörgötter, 2013. "Responding to Key Well-being Challenges in Austria," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 1080, OECD Publishing.
    2. repec:wfo:monber:y:2017:i:9:p:677-699 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    Austria; Autriche; budget; budgets; consolidation; consolidation; debt; deficit; dette; déficit; federal; fiscal; fiscal; fédéral; regional; régional;

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H68 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Forecasts of Budgets, Deficits, and Debt
    • H77 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Intergovernmental Relations; Federalism

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