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Economic and Politico-Economic Equivalence

We extend "economic equivalence" results, like the Ricardian equivalence proposition, to the political sphere where policy is chosen sequentially. We derive conditions under which a policy regime (summarizing admissible policy choices in every period) and a state are "politico-economically equivalent" to another such pair, in the sense that both pairs give rise to the same equilibrium allocation. We apply the conditions in the context of politico-economic theories of government debt as a means to i) deliver intergenerational transfers or ii) smooth tax distortions. We find that certain politico-economic models of social security or variants thereof can be re-interpreted as novel politico-economic theories of debt while other models cannot, possibly explaining the political conflict surrounding social security reform. We also find that in environments with distorting taxes, economic equivalence relations between policies with different levels of debt do not extend to the political sphere.

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Paper provided by Swiss National Bank, Study Center Gerzensee in its series Working Papers with number 12.02.

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Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: May 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:szg:worpap:1202
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  1. Marco Bassetto & Narayana Kocherlakota, 2010. "On the Irrelevance of Government Debt When Taxes are Distortionary," Levine's Working Paper Archive 506439000000000295, David K. Levine.
  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 201-36, March.
  3. Javier Diaz-Gimenez & Giorgia Giovannetti & Ramon Marimon & Pedro Teles, 2008. "Nominal Debt as a Burden on Monetary Policy," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 11(3), pages 493-514, July.
  4. Pierre Yared, 2010. "Politicians, Taxes and Debt," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(2), pages 806-840.
  5. Dotsey, Michael & Li, Wenli & Yang, Fang, 2015. "Home production and Social Security reform," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 131-150.
  6. Martín Gonzalez Eiras, 2010. "Social Security as Markov Equilibrium in OLG Models: A Note," Working Papers 105, Universidad de San Andres, Departamento de Economia, revised Sep 2010.
  7. Zheng Song & Kjetil Storesletten & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2007. "Rotten parents and disciplined children: a politico-economic theory of public expenditure and debt," IEW - Working Papers 325, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  8. Fernando Broner & Alberto Martin & Jaume Ventura, 2006. "Sovereign risk and secondary markets," Economics Working Papers 998, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Aug 2009.
  9. Tabellini, Guido, 2000. " A Positive Theory of Social Security," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 102(3), pages 523-45, June.
  10. Mas-Colell, Andreu & Whinston, Michael D. & Green, Jerry R., 1995. "Microeconomic Theory," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195102680, March.
  11. Ghiglino, Christian & Shell, Karl, 1998. "The economic effects of restrictions on government budget deficits," Working Papers 03-1998, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Economics.
  12. Martin Feldstein & Horst Siebert, 2002. "Social Security Pension Reform in Europe," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number feld02-2.
  13. Martin Feldstein, 2001. "The Future of Social Security Pensions in Europe," NBER Working Papers 8487, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Niepelt, Dirk, 2014. "Debt maturity without commitment," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(S), pages S37-S54.
  15. Feldstein, Martin & Liebman, Jeffrey B., 2002. "Social security," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 32, pages 2245-2324 Elsevier.
  16. Martin Gonzalez-Eiras & Dirk Niepelt, 2007. "The Future of Social Security," Working Papers 07.02, Swiss National Bank, Study Center Gerzensee.
  17. ColemanII, Wilbur John, 2000. "Welfare and optimum dynamic taxation of consumption and income," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(1), pages 1-39, April.
  18. Barro, Robert J, 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1095-1117, Nov.-Dec..
  19. Barro, Robert J., 1979. "On the Determination of the Public Debt," Scholarly Articles 3451400, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  20. Michele Boldrin & Aldo Rustichini, 2000. "Political Equilibria with Social Security," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 3(1), pages 41-78, January.
  21. Cukierman, Alex & Meltzer, Allan H, 1989. "A Political Theory of Government Debt and Deficits in a Neo-Ricardian Framework," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(4), pages 713-32, September.
  22. Lorenzo Forni, 2005. "Social Security as Markov Equilibrium in OLG Models," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 8(1), pages 178-194, January.
  23. Niepelt, Dirk, 2004. "Social Security Reform: Economics and Politics," Seminar Papers 732, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
  24. 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.
  25. Thomas F. Cooley & Jorge Soares, 1999. "A Positive Theory of Social Security Based on Reputation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(1), pages 135-160, February.
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