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Fiscal Institutions and Public Spending Volatility in Europe

Publication Year 
2010
JEL Code 
E32 - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
E62 - Fiscal Policy; Public Expenditures, Investment, and Finance; Taxation
H30 - General
Abstract 
This work provides empirical evidence for a sizeable, statistically significant negative impact of the quality of fiscal institutions on public spending volatility for a panel of 25 EU countries over the 1980-2007 period. The dependent variable is the volatility of discretionary fiscal policy, which does not represent reactions to changes in economic conditions. Our baseline results thus give support to the strengthening of institutions to deal with excessive levels of discretion volatility, as more checks and balances make it harder for governments to change fiscal policy for reasons unrelated to the current state of the economy. Our results also show that bigger countries and bigger governments have less public spending volatility. In contrast to previous studies, the political factors do not seem to play a role, with the exception of the Herfindahl index, which suggests that high concentration of parliamentary seats in a few parties would increase public spending volatility.
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