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Can Public Sector Wage Bills Be Reduced?

46 Pages Posted: 25 Feb 2012  

Pierre Cahuc

National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) - National School for Statistical and Economic Administration (ENSAE); Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne - Equipe Universitaire de Recherche en Economie Quantitative (EUREQUA); French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Stéphane Carcillo

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD); Sciences Po; IZA

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Date Written: March 2012

Abstract

This paper analyzes the relation between public wage bills and public deficits in the OECD countries from 1995 to 2009. The paper shows that fiscal drift episodes, characterized by simultaneous increases in the GDP shares of public wage bills and budget deficits, are more frequent during booms and election years, but not during recessions, except for the 2009 exceptionally strong recession. The emergence of fiscal drift episodes during booms and election years is less frequent in countries with more transparent government, more freedom of the press, as well as in countries with presidential regimes and less union coverage. Inversely, fiscal tightening episodes, characterized by simultaneous decreases in the GDP shares of public wage bills and budget deficits, occur less often during booms than during recessions. The emergence of fiscal tightening episodes during recessions and election years is less frequent in countries with more union coverage.

Suggested Citation

Cahuc, Pierre and Carcillo, Stéphane, Can Public Sector Wage Bills Be Reduced? (March 2012). NBER Working Paper No. w17881. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2010933

Pierre Cahuc (Contact Author)

National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) - National School for Statistical and Economic Administration (ENSAE) ( email )

92245 Malakoff Cedex
France

Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne - Equipe Universitaire de Recherche en Economie Quantitative (EUREQUA) ( email )

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Paris Cedex 13, 75647
France
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HOME PAGE: http://eurequa.univ-paris1.fr/membres/cahuc/

French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS)

106-112 Boulevard de l'Hopital
75647 Paris Cedex 13
France
+33 4 44 07 82 06 (Phone)
+33 4 44 07 82 02 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

77 Bastwick Street
London, EC1V 3PZ
United Kingdom

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Stephane Carcillo

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) ( email )

2 rue Andre Pascal
Paris Cedex 16, 75775
France

Sciences Po ( email )

28 rue des Saints peres
Paris, 75007
France

IZA ( email )

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