NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Fiscal Policy With Impure Intergenerational Altruism

Andrew B. Abel, B. Douglas Bernheim

NBER Working Paper No. 2613 (Also Reprint No. r1688)
Issued in January 1992
NBER Program(s):   PE

Recent work demonstrates that dynastic assumptions guarantee the irrelevance of all redistributional polices, distortionary taxes, and prices--the neutrality of fiscal policy (Ricardian equivalence) is only the "tip of the iceberg." In this paper, we investigate the possibility of reinstating approximate Ricardian equivalence. by introducing a small amount of friction in intergenerational links. If Ricardian equivalence depends upon significantly shorter chains of links than do these stronger neutrality results, then friction my dissipate the effects that generate strong neutrality, without significantly affecting the Ricardian result. Although this intuition turns out to be essentially correct, we show that models with small amounts of friction have other untenable implications. We conclude that the theoretical case for Ricardian equivalence remains tenuous.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w2613

Published: Econometrica, Vol. 59, No. 6, pp. 1687-1711, (November 1991).

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