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Average tax rate cyclicality in OECD countries: A test of three fiscal policy theories

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  • Furceri, Davide
  • Karras, Georgios

Abstract

This paper investigates the cyclical properties of the average effective tax rate in 26 OECD countries over 1965-2003 in order to test the validity of three theories of fiscal policy: (i) the standard Keynesian theory which recommends that tax policy should be counter-cyclical, (ii) the Tax Smoothing hypothesis, which implies that changes in GDP should be uncorrelated with tax rates, and (iii) the positive theory of Battaglini and Coate (2008) which predicts that the average tax rate should be negatively correlated with GDP. Our main finding is that the correlations of tax rates with cyclical GDP are generally quite small and statistically indistinguishable from zero. This finding is quite robust and is more consistent with the implications of the Tax Smoothing hypothesis than either the recommendations of the standard Keynesian model or the predictions of Battaglini and Coate’s theory.

Suggested Citation

  • Furceri, Davide & Karras, Georgios, 2010. "Average tax rate cyclicality in OECD countries: A test of three fiscal policy theories," MPRA Paper 22208, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:22208
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    1. Torsten Persson, 2002. "Do Political Institutions Shape Economic Policy?," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(3), pages 883-905, May.
    2. Graciela L. Kaminsky & Carmen M. Reinhart & Carlos A. Végh, 2005. "When It Rains, It Pours: Procyclical Capital Flows and Macroeconomic Policies," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2004, Volume 19, pages 11-82 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Barseghyan, Levon & Battaglini, Marco & Coate, Stephen, 2013. "Fiscal policy over the real business cycle: A positive theory," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 148(6), pages 2223-2265.
    4. Talvi, Ernesto & Vegh, Carlos A., 2005. "Tax base variability and procyclical fiscal policy in developing countries," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(1), pages 156-190, October.
    5. 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.
    6. Pierre-Olivier Beffy & Patrice Ollivaud & Pete Richardson & Franck Sédillot, 2006. "New OECD Methods for Supply-side and Medium-term Assessments: A Capital Services Approach," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 482, OECD Publishing.
    7. Ethan Ilzetzki & Carlos A. Vegh, 2008. "Procyclical Fiscal Policy in Developing Countries: Truth or Fiction?," NBER Working Papers 14191, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, "undated". "Political Institutions and Policy Outcomes: What are the Stylized Facts?," Working Papers 189, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
    9. Lane, Philip R., 2003. "The cyclical behaviour of fiscal policy: evidence from the OECD," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(12), pages 2661-2675, December.
    10. Bennett W Sutton & Luis Catão, 2002. "Sovereign Defaults; The Role of Volatility," IMF Working Papers 02/149, International Monetary Fund.
    11. Michael Gavin & Roberto Perotti, 1997. "Fiscal Policy in Latin America," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1997, Volume 12, pages 11-72 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Barseghyan, Levon & Battaglini, Marco & Coate, Stephen, 2013. "Fiscal policy over the real business cycle: A positive theory," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 148(6), pages 2223-2265.
    2. Marco Battaglini & Stephen Coate, 2011. "Fiscal Policy and Unemployment," NBER Working Papers 17562, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Fiscal Policy; Tax Rates; Business Cycle;

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles

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