The Political Economy of Budget Deficits

57 Pages Posted: 13 Jun 2000 Last revised: 14 Sep 2010

See all articles by Alberto F. Alesina

Alberto F. Alesina

Harvard University - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Roberto Perotti

Bocconi University - Department of Economics; European University Institute - Economics Department (ECO); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: February 1994

Abstract

This paper provides a critical survey of the literature on politico-institutional determinants of the government budget. We organize our discussion around two questions: Why did certain OECD countries, but not others, accumulate large public debts? Why did these fiscal imbalances appear in the last twenty years rather than before? We begin by discussing the 'tax smoothing' model and conclude that this approach alone cannot provide complete answers to these questions. We will then proceed to a discussion of political economy models, which we organize in six groups: i) Models based upon opportunistic policy makers and naive voters with 'fiscal illusion'; ii) Models of intergenerational redistributions; iii) Models of debt as a strategic variable, linking the current government with the next one; iv) Models of coalition governments; v) Models of geographically dispersed interests; vi) Models emphasizing the effects of budgetary institutions.

Suggested Citation

Alesina, Alberto F. and Perotti, Roberto, The Political Economy of Budget Deficits (February 1994). NBER Working Paper No. w4637. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=226974

Alberto F. Alesina (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

Littauer Center
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-8388 (Phone)
617-495-7730 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Roberto Perotti

Bocconi University - Department of Economics ( email )

Via Gobbi 5
Milan, 20136
Italy

European University Institute - Economics Department (ECO) ( email )

Villa San Paolo
Via della Piazzuola 43
50133 Florence
Italy

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

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