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Fiscal Consolidation: Part 3. Long-Run Projections and Fiscal Gap Calculations

  • Rossana Merola
  • Douglas Sutherland

During the economic and financial crisis, fiscal positions across the OECD countries deteriorated sharply. This raises the question of what level of primary deficit would ensure long-term sustainability and what degree of consolidation is needed. The purpose of this paper is to gauge the scale of fiscal consolidation that will be needed to ensure long-term sustainability. The analysis uses so-called fiscal gaps to provide a simple metric for how much consolidation is needed under a series of different assumptions and scenarios. The aim is to highlight the scale of the problems, how they differ across countries and the uncertainties surrounding the estimates. A first set of results suggest that lower debt targets provide greater room for manoeuvre to react to shocks in the future. A second set of results shows that growth-enhancing structural reforms | especially reforms of pension systems | can mitigate budget pressures resulting from ageing populations and hence contribute to fiscal consolidation. Furthermore, raising efficiency in the provision of health care and education can reduce budgetary pressures. Finally, achieving debt objectives under shocks to interest rates or to government spending would require additional tightening in most of the OECD countries. Consolidation budgétaire : Partie 3. Projections à long terme et calcul des écarts budgétaires Durant la crise économique et financière, la position budgétaire des pays de l’OCDE s’est nettement dégradée. La question se pose dès lors de savoir quel niveau de déficit primaire assurerait la viabilité à long terme et quel degré d’assainissement est nécessaire. Ce document a pour objet d’évaluer l’ampleur de l’effort de consolidation budgétaire à consentir pour assurer la viabilité à long terme. L’analyse s’appuie sur les « écarts budgétaires », qui permettent de mesurer simplement l’ampleur de l’assainissement nécessaire suivant divers scénarios et hypothèses. L’objectif est de mettre en lumière l’échelle des problèmes, les différences qui existent d’un pays à l’autre et les incertitudes qui entourent les estimations. Une première série de résultats semble indiquer que des objectifs de dette plus bas offrent une plus grande marge de manoeuvre pour réagir aux chocs dans l’avenir. Une seconde série de résultats montre que des réformes structurelles propres à renforcer la croissance – en particulier les réformes des systèmes de retraite – peuvent atténuer les pressions budgétaires dues aux vieillissement des populations et, partant, contribuer à l’assainissement des finances publiques. Par ailleurs, rehausser l’efficience dans la prestation de services de santé et d’éducation peut atténuer les pressions budgétaires. Enfin, des chocs affectant les taux d’intérêt ou les dépenses publiques nécessiteraient un resserrement budgétaire plus sévère dans la plupart des pays de l’OCDE.

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Paper provided by OECD Publishing in its series OECD Economics Department Working Papers with number 934.

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Date of creation: 10 Jan 2012
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Handle: RePEc:oec:ecoaaa:934-en
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