Quantifying the Current U.S. Fiscal Imbalance

24 Pages Posted: 13 Jul 2000 Last revised: 6 Oct 2010

See all articles by Alan J. Auerbach

Alan J. Auerbach

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research)

Date Written: August 1997

Abstract

This paper considers the magnitude of the U.S. fiscal imbalance, as measured by the permanent changes needed to stabilize the national debt as a share of GDP. At present, even after recent improvements in forecast deficits, this imbalance stands at 5.3 percent of GDP -- several times the magnitude of the current official deficit. The imbalance is due primarily to the growth of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Addressing an imbalance of this size will require significant policy changes. Even if current projected reductions in other government spending occur, and policies are adopted to eliminate the estimated OASDI imbalance and balance the federal budget in 2002, an additional and immediate reduction in the primary deficit of 2.7 percent of GDP will be required to establish a feasible fiscal policy. Waiting to adopt policy changes will increase the size of the required annual primary deficit reduction.

Suggested Citation

Auerbach, Alan Jeffrey, Quantifying the Current U.S. Fiscal Imbalance (August 1997). NBER Working Paper No. w6119. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=225886

Alan Jeffrey Auerbach (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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

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