Austerity and Distributional Policy

85 Pages Posted: 28 Oct 2020

See all articles by Matteo Alpino

Matteo Alpino

Bank of Italy

Zareh Asatryan

ZEW Mannheim

Sebastian Blesse

ZEW – Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research

Nils Wehrhöfer

Deutsche Bundesbank

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: 2020


What are the effects of austerity on distributional policy? We exploit the autonomy of Italian municipalities in setting non-linear income taxes and the exogenous introduction of a fiscal rule to show that austerity increases tax progressivity. Consistent with this evidence, we find that in a panel of countries austerity correlates with higher marginal tax rates on top, but not on average earners. The increase in progressivity in Italy is driven by mayors having college-degree or working in high-skill occupations, while less-educated or lower-skilled mayors raise taxes uniformly. In the first post-reform election, mayors of former type have higher reelection odds.

Keywords: austerity, fiscal rules, non-linear income taxation, difference-in-discontinuity

JEL Classification: D780, H240, H700

Suggested Citation

Alpino, Matteo and Asatryan, Zareh and Blesse, Sebastian and Wehrhöfer, Nils, Austerity and Distributional Policy (2020). CESifo Working Paper No. 8644, Available at SSRN: or

Matteo Alpino

Bank of Italy ( email )

Corso Cavour, 4
Bari, 70121

Zareh Asatryan

ZEW Mannheim ( email )


Sebastian Blesse

ZEW – Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research ( email )

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

Nils Wehrhöfer (Contact Author)

Deutsche Bundesbank ( email )

Wilhelm-Epstein-Str. 14
Frankfurt/Main, 60431

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