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Growth and fiscal policy: a positive theory

Listed author(s):
  • Levon Barseghyan

    (Cornell University)

  • Marco Battaglini

    (Princeton University)

We present a political economy theory of growth in which the government affects the growth rate both directly through public investments in infrastructure, and indirectly through the effect of taxation on learning by doing. Policy choices are made by a legislature consisting of representatives elected by geographically defined districts. The legislature can raise revenues via a discretionary income tax and by issuing public debt. We study the equilibrium relationship between the dynamics of debt and the growth rate of the economy. We use the model to study the impact of an austerity program in which a country is forced to reduce the debt/GDP ratio. To quantify these effects, the model is calibrated to the U.S. economy.

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Paper provided by Princeton University, Department of Economics, Econometric Research Program. in its series Working Papers with number 1418.

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Date of creation: Aug 2012
Handle: RePEc:pri:metric:wp041_2012_barseghyan_battaglini.pdf
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  1. Bertola, Giuseppe, 1993. "Factor Shares and Savings in Endogenous Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1184-1198, December.
  2. Marco Battaglini & Stephen Coate, 2008. "A Dynamic Theory of Public Spending, Taxation, and Debt," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(1), pages 201-236, March.
  3. Fernando Martin, 2009. "A Positive Theory of Government Debt," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 12(4), pages 608-631, October.
  4. Rogers, Carol Ann, 1989. " Debt Restructuring with a Public Good," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 91(1), pages 117-130.
  5. Roberto Perotti, 1993. "Political Equilibrium, Income Distribution, and Growth," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(4), pages 755-776.
  6. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2010. "Growth in a Time of Debt," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 573-578, May.
  7. Saint-Paul, Gilles & Verdier, Thierry, 1993. "Education, democracy and growth," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(2), pages 399-407, December.
  8. Lars Ljungqvist & Thomas J. Sargent, 2004. "Recursive Macroeconomic Theory, 2nd Edition," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 2, volume 1, number 026212274x, December.
  9. Ardagna Silvia & Caselli Francesco & Lane Timothy, 2007. "Fiscal Discipline and the Cost of Public Debt Service: Some Estimates for OECD Countries," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 7(1), pages 1-35, August.
  10. Rebelo, Sergio, 1991. "Long-Run Policy Analysis and Long-Run Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(3), pages 500-521, June.
  11. Robert J. Barro, 1991. "Economic Growth in a Cross Section of Countries," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(2), pages 407-443.
  12. Gilles Saint-Paul, 2001. "The Dynamics of Exclusion and Fiscal Conservatism," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 4(2), pages 275-302, April.
  13. Roland Benabou, 2000. "Unequal Societies: Income Distribution and the Social Contract," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 96-129, March.
  14. Thomas Laubach, 2009. "New Evidence on the Interest Rate Effects of Budget Deficits and Debt," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 7(4), pages 858-885, 06.
  15. Neville Francis & Valerie A. Ramey, 2009. "Measures of per Capita Hours and Their Implications for the Technology-Hours Debate," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 41(6), pages 1071-1097, 09.
  16. King, Robert G & Rebelo, Sergio, 1990. "Public Policy and Economic Growth: Developing Neoclassical Implications," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(5), pages 126-150, October.
  17. Lucas, Robert Jr. & Stokey, Nancy L., 1983. "Optimal fiscal and monetary policy in an economy without capital," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 55-93.
  18. Yongsung Chang & Joao F. Gomes & Frank Schorfheide, 2002. "Learning-by-Doing as a Propagation Mechanism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1498-1520, December.
  19. Ardagna, Silvia, 2004. "Fiscal Stabilizations: When Do They Work and Why," Scholarly Articles 2580047, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  20. S. Rao Aiyagari & Albert Marcet & Thomas J. Sargent & Juha Seppala, 2002. "Optimal Taxation without State-Contingent Debt," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(6), pages 1220-1254, December.
  21. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1994. "Is Inequality Harmful for Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 600-621, June.
  22. Ardagna, Silvia, 2004. "Fiscal stabilizations: When do they work and why," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 48(5), pages 1047-1074, October.
  23. Occhino Filippo, 2012. "Government Debt Dynamics Under Discretion," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 12(1), pages 1-28, July.
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