Download publication

Working Paper

The Economic growth and income distribution implications of public spending and tax decisions

European Union countries can reduce inequality of opportunity through public spending and tax decisions. Broadly, the most effective approach includes progressive taxes and inheritance taxes, spending on education, health and public infrastructure, and better government effectiveness. Better fiscal rules and institutions also increase resilience against crises.

By: Date: October 19, 2020 Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance

The level and composition of public expenditures and revenues both have implications for economic development, as shown by the ‘fiscal multiplier’ and the ‘quality of public finance’ literature. Public finance decisions also influence the distribution of income. Based on a review of the literature, I argue for a fair distribution of income as reflected in low-income inequality, not particularly because of the impact of income inequality on long-term growth (which is a controversial issue), but primarily because income inequality typically implies inequality of opportunity. European Union countries have very diverse public finance structures and different levels of effectiveness and there is room for improvement in the growth and equality impacts in all countries. A general guideline would be that the most effective approach comprises progressive taxes and inheritance taxes, spending on education, health and public infrastructure, and better government effectiveness. At the height of the 2008 global crisis and the subsequent European financial and economic crises, the fiscal consolidation strategies of EU countries largely relied on cutting public investment and social spending (except pensions), which is the opposite of what is suggested in the literature. Better fiscal rules and good fiscal institutions are needed to safeguard growth- and distribution-friendly expenditures in a crisis.

Recommended citation:
Darvas, Z. (2020) ‘The economic growth and income distribution implications of public spending and tax decisions’, Working Paper 2020/05, Bruegel

Read article More on this topic More by this author
 

Opinion

中國兩會的主要目標在於長遠經濟規劃

2021年相對較低的經濟目標實際上有助於保持2021和2022年增長的相對穩定。

By: Alicia García-Herrero Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: March 12, 2021
Read article More on this topic More by this author
 

Opinion

Anchoring expectations as Two Sessions’ main objective

Interestingly, the growth target for 2021 is pretty humble: over 6 percent for 2021, while most forecasts hover between 7 and 10 percent.

By: Alicia García-Herrero Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: March 10, 2021
Read article Download PDF More on this topic More by this author
 

External Publication

When and how to unwind COVID support measures to the banking system?

Study of regulatory measures and supervisory practices that have supported public guarantee schemes and moratoria in euro-area countries prepared for the ECON committee of the European Parliament.

By: Alexander Lehmann Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: March 9, 2021
Read article More on this topic More by this author
 

Blog Post

COVID-19 has widened the income gap in Europe

Workers with low-educational levels suffered far worse than others in terms of COVID-19 related job losses during the first half of 2020 in the EU. Jobs for tertiary-educated workers even increased. Thus, the pandemic has increased income inequality, reinforcing the case for inclusive development.

By: Zsolt Darvas Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: December 3, 2020