Fiscal Union in Europe? Redistributive and Stabilizing Effects of a European Tax‐Benefit System and Fiscal Equalization Mechanism

48 Pages Posted: 16 Jul 2013

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 Freiburg

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)

Date Written: July 2013

Abstract

The current debt crisis has given rise to a debate concerning deeper fiscal integration in Europe. The view is widespread that moving towards a ‘fiscal union’ would have stabilizing effects in case of macroeconomic shocks. We study the economic effects of introducing two elements of a fiscal union: an EU‐wide tax and transfer system and a fiscal equalization mechanism. Using the European tax‐benefit calculator EUROMOD, we exploit representative household micro data from 11 eurozone countries to simulate these policy reforms and study their effects on the income distribution and automatic stabilizers. We find that replacing one third of the national tax‐benefit systems with a European system would lead to significant redistributive effects both within and across countries. These effects depend on income levels and the structures of existing national systems. The EU system would particularly improve fiscal stabilization in credit constrained countries absorbing 10–15% of a macroeconomic income shock. Introducing a fiscal equalization mechanism would redistribute revenues from high to low income countries. However, the stabilization properties of this system are ambiguous. The results suggest that it might be necessary for Europe to explore alternative ways of improving macroeconomic stability without redistributing income ex ante.

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 Stabilizing Effects of a European Tax‐Benefit System and Fiscal Equalization Mechanism (July 2013). Economic Policy, Vol. 28, Issue 75, pp. 375-422, 2013. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2294271 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1468-0327.12011

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 Freiburg ( email )

Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, Wirtscha.inf.
Kollegiengebäude II, Platz der Alten Synagoge
Freiburg im Breisgau, 79098
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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