The Politics of 1992: Fiscal Policy and European Integration

Torsten Persson, Guido Tabellini

NBER Working Paper No. 3460
Issued in October 1990
NBER Program(s):International Trade and Investment, International Finance and Macroeconomics

The internal market in Europe will greatly increase the international mobility of resources. How will this affect fiscal policy in different countries? The first part of the paper considers taxation of capital in a two country model, where a democratically chosen government in each country chooses tax policy. Higher capital mobility changes the politico-economic equilibrium in two ways. On the one hand, it leads to more tax competition between the countries: this "economic effect" tends to lower both countries' tax rates. On the other hand, it alters voters' preferences and make them elect a different government: this "political effect" offsets the increased tax competition, although not completely so. The second part of the paper considers taxation of labor, in a model where labor is internationally immobile. Eliminating the remaining barriers' to trade in goals, changes the distribution of labor earnings in the economy, which again has a political, as well as an economic effect. And again the economic and political effects push the tax rates in different directions, but here the political effect can prevail. The tendency for an adapting political equilibrium to preserve the status quo, thus emerges as a general result of the paper.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w3460

Published: Review of Economic Studies, Vol. 59 (1992): 689-702. citation courtesy of

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