Austerity and Inequality: New Evidence from the IMF



The IMF Economic Review just published a paper that looks into the “distributional consequences of fiscal austerity measures” for 17 OECD countries over the last 30 years. This new paper adds to the stock of IMF papers on the impacts of fiscal consolidation of inequality. Here are links and a cheat sheet to the key papers:

1) Painful Medicine: This (non-wonkish) paper documented that fiscal consolidations not only lower aggregate incomes but have distributional consequences—wage incomes fall more than profits; and the long-term unemployed are affected more than short-term unemployed.

2) The Distributional Effects of Fiscal Consolidation: A wonkish version of the “Painful Medicine” article, with the additional result that, between 1978 and 2009, fiscal consolidations in advanced economies increased the Gini measure on income inequality.

3) Distributional Consequences of Fiscal Consolidation and the Role of Fiscal Policy: In addition to confirming the results in the previous papers, this paper brings in evidence from emerging markets. It also discusses how policies can be designed to mitigate the impacts of fiscal policy on inequality.

4) Who Let the Gini Out?: A (non-wonkish) summary of some of the previous papers.

5)  Fiscal Policy and Inequality: A key finding of the paper is that fiscal consolidations during the Great Recession did not lead to increases in inequality.

6) Distributional Consequences of Fiscal Adjustments: What Do the Data Say?: “The paper shows that fiscal adjustments are likely to raise inequality through various channels including their effects on unemployment. Spending-based adjustments tend to worsen inequality more significantly, relative to tax-based adjustments. The composition of austerity measures also matters: progressive taxation and targeted social benefits and subsidies introduced in the context of a broader decline in spending can help offset some of the adverse distributional impact of fiscal adjustments.”

Posted by at 10:22 AM

Labels: Inclusive Growth


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