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Jochen Hartwig and Jan Egbert Sturm
''Do fiscal rules breed inequality? First evidence for the EU''
( 2019, Vol. 39 No.2 )
Research into the effects of fiscal rules has so far focused on their budgetary impact. Possible unwanted side effects of having fiscal rules have gone largely unexplored. This is unfortunate since such side effects are highly probable. For instance, governments attempting to abide by a fiscal rule might curb social expenditure; and this could lead to a higher level of income inequality. We test this hypothesis with data from the Standardized World Income Inequality Database (SWIID) and a new set of fiscal rules dummy variables for EU countries. We find that after 'hard' rules, i.e. rules that are reinforced by sanctions and/or automatic correction mechanisms, have been in place for several years, the amount of redistribution in a country declines, leading to an increase in inequality based on disposable income measures.
Keywords: Fiscal rules, Inequality, European Union
JEL: E6 - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General
H3 - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents: General
Manuscript Received : Aug 29 2018 Manuscript Accepted : Jun 15 2019

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