Fiscal Union in Europe? Redistributive and Stabilising Effects of an EU Tax-Benefit System

34 Pages Posted: 16 Jun 2012

See all articles by Olivier Bargain

Olivier Bargain

IZA Institute of Labor Economics; University College Dublin (UCD)

Mathias Dolls

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) - Ifo Institute; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Clemens Fuest

ifo Institute – Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich; Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich; Center for Economic Studies (CES)

Dirk Neumann

University of Cologne

Andreas Peichl

ZEW – Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research; University of Mannheim - School of Economics (VWL); IZA Institute of Labor Economics; University of Essex - Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER)

Nico Pestel

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Sebastian Siegloch

IZA Institute of Labor Economics; University of Mannheim - Department of Economics; ZEW – Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research - Corporate Taxation and Public Finance Research; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Abstract

The current debt crisis has given rise to a debate about deeper fiscal integration in Europe. The view is widespread that moving towards a 'fiscal union' would have a stabilising effect in the event of macroeconomic shocks. In this paper we study the economic effects of introducing two elements of a fiscal union: Firstly, an EU-wide tax and transfer system and secondly, an EU-wide system of fiscal equalisation. Using the European tax-benefit calculator EUROMOD, we exploit representative household microdata from 11 Eurozone countries to simulate these policy reforms and to study their effects on the distribution of income as well as their impact on automatic fiscal stabilisers. We find that replacing one third of the national tax and transfer systems by a European system would lead to significant redistributive effects both within and across countries. These effects depend on income levels and the structures of the existing national tax and transfer systems. The EU system would improve fiscal stabilisation especially in credit constrained countries. It would absorb between 10 and 15 per cent of a macroeconomic income shock. Introducing a fiscal equalisation system based on taxing capacity would redistribute revenues from high to low income countries. The stabilisation properties of this system, however, are ambiguous. This suggests that not all forms of fiscal integration will improve macroeconomic stability in the Eurozone.

Keywords: European income tax, automatic stabilisation, fiscal union

JEL Classification: H2, H3, J22

Suggested Citation

Bargain, Olivier and Dolls, Mathias and Fuest, Clemens and Neumann, Dirk and Peichl, Andreas and Pestel, Nico and Siegloch, Sebastian, Fiscal Union in Europe? Redistributive and Stabilising Effects of an EU Tax-Benefit System. IZA Discussion Paper No. 6585. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2085092

Olivier Bargain (Contact Author)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

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

University College Dublin (UCD) ( email )

Belfield, Dublin 4 4
Ireland
+353 1 716 8357 (Phone)
+353 1 283 0068 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.ucd.ie/economics/staff/obargain/obargain.htm

Mathias Dolls

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) - Ifo Institute ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, 01069
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.cesifo-group.de/ifoHome/CESifo-Group/ifo/ifo-Mitarbeiter/cvifo-dolls_m.html

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

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

Clemens Fuest

ifo Institute – Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE 81679
Germany
++89-9224-1430 (Phone)

Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich ( email )

Schackstrasse 4 / II
Munich, DE 80539
Germany

Center for Economic Studies (CES) ( email )

Schackstr. 4
Munich, DE 80539
Germany
++89 2180-2748 (Phone)
++89 2180-17845 (Fax)

Dirk Neumann

University of Cologne ( email )

Albertus-Magnus-Platz
Cologne, 50923
Germany

Andreas Peichl

ZEW – Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research ( email )

P.O. Box 10 34 43
L 7,1
D-68034 Mannheim, 68034
Germany

University of Mannheim - School of Economics (VWL) ( email )

Mannheim 68131
Germany

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

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

University of Essex - Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER)

Wivenhoe Park
Colchester CO4 3SQ
United Kingdom

Nico Pestel

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

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

Sebastian Siegloch

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

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

University of Mannheim - Department of Economics ( email )

D-68131 Mannheim
Germany

ZEW – Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research - Corporate Taxation and Public Finance Research ( email )

United States

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

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