IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/red/sed014/176.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Reducing Government Debt in the Presence of Inequality

Author

Listed:
  • Christoph Winter

    (University of Zurich)

  • Sigrid Roehrs

    (Goethe University Frankfurt)

Abstract

What are the welfare consequences of debt reduction policies? In this paper, we answer this question with the help of an incomplete markets economy with production in which households are subject to uninsurable income shocks. We focus on policies that raise revenues from taxing income. We make three contributions. First, we show that quantitatively sizable welfare gains can be reaped by reducing debt, at least in the long-run. Second, we find that, for some policies, the short-run losses that occur during the transition more than outweigh the long-run gains. And third, we show that both short-run and long-run welfare effects of government debt depend on the income composition of the consumption-poor. In our calibration, we thus target the skewed wealth and the earnings distribution of the US economy. Our results have important implications for the design of debt reduction strategies. Policies that imply more redistribution will find more political support, as they compensate the consumption-poor, who suffer the most during the transition.

Suggested Citation

  • Christoph Winter & Sigrid Roehrs, 2014. "Reducing Government Debt in the Presence of Inequality," 2014 Meeting Papers 176, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed014:176
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://economicdynamics.org/meetpapers/2014/paper_176.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Francisco Gomes & Alexander Michaelides & Valery Polkovnichenko, 2009. "Quantifying the Distortionary Fiscal Cost of ‘The Bailout’," Working Papers 2009-6, Central Bank of Cyprus.
    2. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2009. "Varieties of Crises and Their Dates," Introductory Chapters, in: This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly, Princeton University Press.
    3. Marco Cagetti & Mariacristina De Nardi, 2006. "Entrepreneurship, Frictions, and Wealth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(5), pages 835-870, October.
    4. Minjoon Lee & Jinhui Bai & Fudong Zhang & Ruediger Bachmann, 2014. "The Welfare Costs of Fiscal Uncertainty: a Quantitative Evaluation," 2014 Meeting Papers 744, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    5. Greg Kaplan & Giovanni L. Violante, 2010. "How Much Consumption Insurance beyond Self-Insurance?," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(4), pages 53-87, October.
    6. Julio Dávila & Jay H. Hong & Per Krusell & José‐Víctor Ríos‐Rull, 2012. "Constrained Efficiency in the Neoclassical Growth Model With Uninsurable Idiosyncratic Shocks," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 80(6), pages 2431-2467, November.
    7. Pablo D'Erasmo & Enrique G. Mendoza, 2016. "Distributional Incentives In An Equilibrium Model Of Domestic Sovereign Default," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 14(1), pages 7-44, February.
    8. Albanesi, Stefania, 2008. "Comment on: "Markets versus Governments" by Acemoglu, Golosov and Tsyvinski," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 190-195, January.
    9. Ruediger Bachmann & Jinhui Bai & Minjoon Lee & Fudong Zhang, 2020. "The Welfare and Distributional Effects of Fiscal Volatility: a Quantitative Evaluation," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 38, pages 127-153, October.
    10. Albert Marcet & Katharina Greulich, 2008. "Pareto-Improving Optimal Capital and Labor Taxes," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 733.08, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
    11. Trabandt, Mathias & Uhlig, Harald, 2011. "The Laffer curve revisited," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(4), pages 305-327.
    12. Kenneth L. Judd, 1998. "Numerical Methods in Economics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262100711, December.
    13. Francisco Gomes & Alexander Michaelides & Valery Polkovnichenko, 2013. "Fiscal Policy and Asset Prices with Incomplete Markets," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 26(2), pages 531-566.
    14. Juan Carlos Conesa & Sagiri Kitao & Dirk Krueger, 2009. "Taxing Capital? Not a Bad Idea after All!," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 25-48, March.
    15. Aiyagari, S. Rao & McGrattan, Ellen R., 1998. "The optimum quantity of debt," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(3), pages 447-469, October.
    16. Jonathan Heathcote & Kjetil Storesletten & Giovanni L. Violante, 2009. "Quantitative Macroeconomics with Heterogeneous Households," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 1(1), pages 319-354, May.
    17. Mariacristina De Nardi, 2004. "Wealth Inequality and Intergenerational Links," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 71(3), pages 743-768.
    18. Sebastian Dyrda & Marcelo Pedroni, 2015. "Optimal Fiscal Policy in a Model with Uninsurable Idiosyncratic Shocks," Working Papers tecipa-550, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
    19. Julio Dávila & Jay H. Hong & Per Krusell & José‐Víctor Ríos‐Rull, 2012. "Constrained Efficiency in the Neoclassical Growth Model With Uninsurable Idiosyncratic Shocks," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 80(6), pages 2431-2467, November.
    20. Vincenzo Quadrini & Jose-Victor Rios-Rull, 1997. "Understanding the U.S. distribution of wealth," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, vol. 21(Spr), pages 22-36.
    21. Reinhart, Karmen & Rogoff, Kenneth, 2009. ""This time is different": panorama of eight centuries of financial crises," Economic Policy, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, vol. 1, pages 77-114, March.
    22. Mendoza, Enrique G. & Razin, Assaf & Tesar, Linda L., 1994. "Effective tax rates in macroeconomics: Cross-country estimates of tax rates on factor incomes and consumption," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 297-323, December.
    23. Azzimonti, Marina & de Francisco, Eva & Quadrini, Vincenzo, 2012. "Financial Globalization, Inequality, and the Raising of Public Debt," CEPR Discussion Papers 8893, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    24. Julio Dávila & Jay H. Hong & Per Krusell & José‐Víctor Ríos‐Rull, 2012. "Constrained Efficiency in the Neoclassical Growth Model With Uninsurable Idiosyncratic Shocks," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 80(6), pages 2431-2467, November.
    25. Carvalho, Carlos & Ferrero, Andrea & Nechio, Fernanda, 2016. "Demographics and real interest rates: Inspecting the mechanism," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 208-226.
    26. Markus Poschke & Baris Kaymak & Ozan Bakis, 2012. "On the Optimality of Progressive Income Redistribution," 2012 Meeting Papers 837, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    27. Josep Pijoan-Mas, 2006. "Precautionary Savings or Working Longer Hours?," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 9(2), pages 326-352, April.
    28. Kaiji Chen & Ayşe İmrohoroğlu, 2017. "Debt in the US economy," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 64(4), pages 675-706, December.
    29. Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas & Jonathan A. Parker, 2002. "Consumption Over the Life Cycle," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(1), pages 47-89, January.
    30. Anmol Bhandari & David Evans & Mikhail Golosov & Thomas J. Sargent, 2013. "Taxes, Debts, and Redistributions with Aggregate Shocks," NBER Working Papers 19470, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    31. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2014. "This Time is Different: A Panoramic View of Eight Centuries of Financial Crises," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 15(2), pages 215-268, November.
    32. Reinhart, Carmen & Rogoff, Kenneth, 2009. "This Time It’s Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly-Preface," MPRA Paper 17451, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    33. Fernández-Villaverde, Jesús & Krueger, Dirk, 2011. "Consumption And Saving Over The Life Cycle: How Important Are Consumer Durables?," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 15(5), pages 725-770, November.
    34. S. Rao Aiyagari, 1994. "Uninsured Idiosyncratic Risk and Aggregate Saving," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(3), pages 659-684.
    35. Carroll, Christopher D., 2006. "The method of endogenous gridpoints for solving dynamic stochastic optimization problems," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 91(3), pages 312-320, June.
    36. Michael Keane & Richard Rogerson, 2015. "Reconciling Micro and Macro Labor Supply Elasticities: A Structural Perspective," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 7(1), pages 89-117, August.
    37. Per Krusell & Anthony A. Smith & Jr., 1998. "Income and Wealth Heterogeneity in the Macroeconomy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(5), pages 867-896, October.
    38. Marina Azzimonti & Eva de Francisco & Vincenzo Quadrini, 2014. "Financial Globalization, Inequality, and the Rising Public Debt," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(8), pages 2267-2302, August.
    39. Woodford, Michael, 1990. "Public Debt as Private Liquidity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 382-388, May.
    40. Audrey Desbonnet & Thomas Weitzenblum, 2012. "Why Do Governments End Up With Debt? Short-Run Effects Matter," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 50(4), pages 905-919, October.
    41. Röhrs, Sigrid & Winter, Christoph, 2015. "Public versus private provision of liquidity: Is there a trade-off?," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 314-339.
    42. Greg Kaplan & Giovanni L. Violante, 2014. "A Model of the Consumption Response to Fiscal Stimulus Payments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 82(4), pages 1199-1239, July.
    43. Reinhart, Carmen & Rogoff, Kenneth, 2009. "This Time It’s Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly-Chapter 1," MPRA Paper 17452, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    44. 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, June.
    45. Ponticelli, Jacopo & Voth, Hans-Joachim, 2020. "Austerity and anarchy: Budget cuts and social unrest in Europe, 1919–2008," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 1-19.
    46. Stefan Bach, 2012. "Vermögensabgaben: ein Beitrag zur Sanierung der Staatsfinanzen in Europa," DIW Wochenbericht, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 79(28), pages 3-11.
    47. Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1990. "Supply-Side Economics: An Analytical Review," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 42(2), pages 293-316, April.
    48. Angeletos, George-Marios & Panousi, Vasia, 2009. "Revisiting the supply side effects of government spending," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 137-153, March.
    49. Huggett, Mark, 1996. "Wealth distribution in life-cycle economies," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 469-494, December.
    50. Vincenzo Quadrini, 1999. "The Importance Of Entrepreneurship For Wealth Concentration And Mobility," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 45(1), pages 1-19, March.
    51. Sebastian Dyrda & Marcelo Pedroni, 2015. "Optimal Fiscal Policy in a Model with Uninsurable Idiosyncratic Shocks," Working Papers tecipa-549, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Röhrs, Sigrid & Winter, Christoph, 2015. "Public versus private provision of liquidity: Is there a trade-off?," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 314-339.
    2. Vogel, Edgar, 2014. "Optimal Level of Government Debt: Matching Wealth Inequality and the Fiscal Sector," MEA discussion paper series 201410, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.
    3. Vogel, Edgar, 2014. "Optimal level of government debt - matching wealth inequality and the fiscal sector," Working Paper Series 1665, European Central Bank.
    4. Dieppe, Alistair & Mourinho Félix, Ricardo & Marchiori, Luca & Grech, Owen & Albani, Maria & Lalouette, Laure & Kulikov, Dmitry & Papadopoulou, Niki & Sideris, Dimitris & Irac, Delphine & Gordo Mora, , 2015. "Public debt, population ageing and medium-term growth," Occasional Paper Series 165, European Central Bank.
    5. Heejeong Kim, 2022. "Inequality, Disaster risk, and the Great Recession," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 43, pages 217-240, January.
    6. Domeij, David & Ellingsen, Tore, 2015. "Rational Bubbles and Economic Crises: A Quantitative Analysis," SSE Working Paper Series in Economics 2015:1, Stockholm School of Economics.
    7. repec:ecb:ecbops:2014165 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Mariacristina De Nardi & Giulio Fella, 2017. "Saving and Wealth Inequality," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 26, pages 280-300, October.
    9. Kabukçuoğlu, Ayşe, 2017. "The winners and losers of tax reform: An assessment under financial integration," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 85(C), pages 90-122.
    10. Antonio Antunes & Valerio Ercolani, 2020. "Public debt expansions and the dynamics of the household borrowing constraint," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 37, pages 1-32, July.
    11. Krueger, D. & Mitman, K. & Perri, F., 2016. "Macroeconomics and Household Heterogeneity," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & Harald Uhlig (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 0, pages 843-921, Elsevier.
    12. Daniel Harenberg & Alexander Ludwig, "undated". "Social Security and the Interactions Between Aggregate and Idiosyncratic Risk," Working Papers ETH-RC-14-002, ETH Zurich, Chair of Systems Design.
    13. Daniel Harenberg & Alexander Ludwig, 2019. "Idiosyncratic Risk, Aggregate Risk, And The Welfare Effects Of Social Security," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 60(2), pages 661-692, May.
    14. Jochen Mankart & Rigas Oikonomou, 2017. "Household Search and the Aggregate Labour Market," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 84(4), pages 1735-1788.
    15. Piero Gottardi & Atsushi Kajii & Tomoyuki Nakajima, 2015. "Optimal Taxation and Debt with Uninsurable Risks to Human Capital Accumulation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(11), pages 3443-3470, November.
    16. Minchul Yum, 2018. "On the distribution of wealth and employment," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 30, pages 86-105, October.
    17. Reinhart, Carmen M. & Reinhart, Vincent & Rogoff, Kenneth, 2015. "Dealing with debt," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(S1), pages 43-55.
    18. Boháček, Radim & Kejak, Michal, 2018. "Optimal government policies in models with heterogeneous agents," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 176(C), pages 834-858.
    19. Athreya, Kartik B., 2014. "Big Ideas in Macroeconomics: A Nontechnical View," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262019736, December.
    20. Daniel R. Carroll & Jim Dolmas & Eric R. Young, 2015. "Majority Voting: A Quantitative Investigation," Working Papers (Old Series) 1442, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
    21. Césaire Meh & Yaz Terajima, 2009. "Uninsurable investment risks and capital income taxation," Annals of Finance, Springer, vol. 5(3), pages 521-541, June.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E2 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment
    • H6 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt
    • D52 - Microeconomics - - General Equilibrium and Disequilibrium - - - Incomplete Markets

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:red:sed014:176. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/sedddea.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Christian Zimmermann (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/sedddea.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.