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Fiscal sustainability and policy rules under changing demographic forecasts


  • Lassila, Jukka
  • Valkonen, Tarmo
  • Alho, Juha M.


All practical evaluations of fiscal sustainability that include the effects of population ageing must utilize demographic forecasts. It is well known that such forecasts are uncertain, and that has been taken into account in some studies by using stochastic population projections jointly with economic models. We develop this approach further by introducing regular demographic forecast revisions that are embedded in stochastic population projections. This allows us to separate systematically, in each demographic outcome and under different policy rules, the expected and the actualized effects of population ageing on public finances. We show that the likelihood of sustainability risks is significant, and that it would be wise to consider policies that reduce the likelihood of getting highly indebted. Furthermore, although demographic forecasts are uncertain, they seem to contain enough information to be useful in forward-looking policy rules.

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  • Lassila, Jukka & Valkonen, Tarmo & Alho, Juha M., 2011. "Fiscal sustainability and policy rules under changing demographic forecasts," Discussion Papers 1265, The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy.
  • Handle: RePEc:rif:dpaper:1265

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Alho, Juha M. & Hougaard Jensen, Svend E. & Lassila, Jukka & Valkonen, Tarmo, 2005. "Controlling the effects of demographic risks: the role of pension indexation schemes," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 4(02), pages 139-153, July.
    2. Alan J. Auerbach & Ronald Lee, 2009. "Notional Defined Contribution Pension Systems in a Stochastic Context: Design and Stability," NBER Chapters,in: Social Security Policy in a Changing Environment, pages 43-68 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Jukka Lassila & Tarmo Valkonen, 2004. "Pre-funding Expenditure on Health and Long-term Care under Demographic Uncertainty," The Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance, The International Association for the Study of Insurance Economics, vol. 29(4), pages 620-639, October.
    4. 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.
    5. Jukka Lassila & Tarmo Valkonen, 2007. "The Finnish Pension Reform of 2005," The Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance - Issues and Practice, Palgrave Macmillan;The Geneva Association, vol. 32(1), pages 75-94, January.
    6. Enrique G. Mendoza & P. Marcelo Oviedo, 2009. "Public Debt, Fiscal Solvency and Macroeconomic Uncertainty in Latin America The Cases of Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica and Mexico," Economía Mexicana NUEVA ÉPOCA, , vol. 0(2), pages 133-173, July-Dece.
    7. Eric M. Leeper, 2010. "Monetary science, fiscal alchemy," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 361-434.
    8. Nico Keilman, 2008. "European Demographic Forecasts Have Not Become More Accurate Over the Past 25 Years," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 34(1), pages 137-153.
    9. repec:nsr:niesrd:250 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Pål Ulla, 2006. "Assessing Fiscal Risks through Long-term Budget Projections," OECD Journal on Budgeting, OECD Publishing, vol. 6(1), pages 127-187.
    11. Alho, Juha M. & Vanne, Reijo, 2006. "On predictive distributions of public net liabilities," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 725-733.
    12. Lee, Ronald & Tuljapurkar, Shripad, 1998. "Uncertain Demographic Futures and Social Security Finances," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 237-241, May.
    13. Valkonen, Tarmo, 2002. "Demographic Uncertainty and Taxes," Discussion Papers 816, The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy.
    14. Blanchard, Olivier J, 1985. "Debt, Deficits, and Finite Horizons," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(2), pages 223-247, April.
    15. Jukka Lassila & Tarmo Valkonen & Juha M. Alho, 2011. "Assessing the sustainability of health and long-term care financing - and the usefulness of policy guidelines based on demographic forecasts," Chapters,in: Three takes sustainability. VATT Publications 58, pages 151-175 The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy.
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    Cited by:

    1. Amélie Lecocq & Marcelin Joanis, 2013. "Au-delà des certitudes : Pouvoir gris, obésité et autres dimensions incertaines de l’impact budgétaire du vieillissement," Cahiers de recherche 13-08, Departement d'Economique de l'École de gestion à l'Université de Sherbrooke.

    More about this item


    public finance; fiscal sustainability; stochastic population simulations; changing demographic forecasts;

    JEL classification:

    • H30 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - General
    • H62 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Deficit; Surplus
    • H63 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Debt; Debt Management; Sovereign Debt
    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts

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