The Political Color of Fiscal Responsibility

Andreas Müller, Kjetil Storesletten, and Fabrizio Zilibotti

Journal of the European Economic Association

Photo: Wiley

Published in:

Journal of the European Economic Association 2015

DOI: 10.1111/jeea.12154


We propose a dynamic general equilibrium model that yields testable implications about the fiscal policy run by governments of different political color. Successive generations of voters choose taxation, expenditure and government debt through repeated elections. Voters are heterogeneous by age and by the intensity of their preferences for public good provision. The political equilibrium switches stochastically between left- (pro-public goods) and right-leaning (pro-private consumption) governments. A shift to the left (right) is associated with a fall (increase) in government debt, an increase (fall) in taxation, and an increase (fall) in government expenditures. However, left-leaning governments engage in more debt accumulation during recessions. These predictions are shown to be consistent with the time-series evidence for the U.S. in the post-war period, and also with the evidence for a panel of OECD countries.


Published Sep. 22, 2015 1:23 PM - Last modified Dec. 16, 2015 4:01 PM