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How effective are automatic stabilisers? Theory and empirical results for Germany and other OECD countries


  • Tödter, Karl-Heinz
  • Scharnagl, Michael


Cyclically induced changes in taxes and government expenditures which tend to stabilise aggregate output are called automatic stabilisers. Using a small macro model, this paper reviews alternative methods of measuring the smoothing power of automatic stabilisers and discusses their relationship to the Ricardian Equivalence Theorem. Based on simulation exercises with the macroeconometric multi-country model of the Deutsche Bundesbank, the empirical part of the paper presents estimates of the smoothing power of automatic stabilisers for Germany and some other OECD countries. The results for Germany suggest that in the first year 15 to 20 per cent of an exogenous demand shock are absorbed by the automatic stabilisers. Similar results are obtained for France, Italy, the Netherlands, UK, Canada and the US.

Suggested Citation

  • Tödter, Karl-Heinz & Scharnagl, Michael, 2004. "How effective are automatic stabilisers? Theory and empirical results for Germany and other OECD countries," Discussion Paper Series 1: Economic Studies 2004,21, Deutsche Bundesbank.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:bubdp1:2166

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hamerle, Alfred & Liebig, Thilo & Scheule, Harald, 2004. "Forecasting Credit Portfolio Risk," Discussion Paper Series 2: Banking and Financial Studies 2004,01, Deutsche Bundesbank.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jan Veld & Martin Larch & Marieke Vandeweyer, 2013. "Automatic Fiscal Stabilisers: What They Are and What They Do," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 24(1), pages 147-163, February.
    2. Sachverständigenrat zur Begutachtung der Gesamtwirtschaftlichen Entwicklung (ed.), 2007. "Staatsverschuldung wirksam begrenzen. Expertise im Auftrag des Bundesministers für Wirtschaft und Technologie," Occasional Reports / Expertisen, German Council of Economic Experts / Sachverständigenrat zur Begutachtung der gesamtwirtschaftlichen Entwicklung, number 75368.
    3. David Prušvic, 2010. "Evropská fiskální pravidla a jejich účinnost: prvních 15 let
      [European Fiscal Policy Rules: First 15 Years]
      ," Politická ekonomie, University of Economics, Prague, vol. 2010(1), pages 51-69.
    4. Jérôme Creel & Francesco Saraceno, 2008. "Automatic Stabilisation, Discretionary Policy and the Stability Pact," Sciences Po publications 2008-15, Sciences Po.
    5. Baum, Anja & Koester, Gerrit B., 2011. "The impact of fiscal policy on economic activity over the business cycle - evidence from a threshold VAR analysis," Discussion Paper Series 1: Economic Studies 2011,03, Deutsche Bundesbank.
    6. Bode, Oliver & Gerke, Rafael & Schellhorn, Hannes, 2006. "Die Wirkung fiskalischer Schocks auf das Bruttoinlandsprodukt," Working Papers 01/2006, German Council of Economic Experts / Sachverständigenrat zur Begutachtung der gesamtwirtschaftlichen Entwicklung.
    7. Koch, Daniel, 2011. "Wirksame Begrenzung von Staatsverschuldung auf europäischer Ebene," Discussion Paper Series 114, Julius Maximilian University of Würzburg, Chair of Economic Order and Social Policy.

    More about this item


    Fiscal policy; automatic stabilisers; smoothing power; compensation method;

    JEL classification:

    • H62 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Deficit; Surplus
    • H30 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - General
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy


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