NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Why is Fiscal Policy Often Procyclical?

Alberto Alesina, Guido Tabellini

NBER Working Paper No. 11600
Issued in September 2005
NBER Program(s):   EFG   PE   POL

Many countries, especially developing ones, follow procyclical fiscal polices, namely spending goes up (taxes go down) in booms and spending goes down (taxes go up) in recessions. We provide an explanation for this suboptimal fiscal policy based upon political distortions and incentives for less-than-benevolent government to appropriate rents. Voters have incentives similar to the “starving the Leviathan” classic argument, and demand more public goods or fewer taxes to prevent

governments from appropriating rents when the economy is doing well. We test this argument against more traditional explanations based purely on borrowing constraints, with a reasonable amount of success.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w11600

Published: Alberto Alesina & Filipe R. Campante & Guido Tabellini, 2008. "Why is Fiscal Policy Often Procyclical?," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 6(5), pages 1006-1036, 09. citation courtesy of

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