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Linda Kezbere

7 August 2019
Economic Bulletin Issue 5, 2019
At a time of high government indebtedness, low structural economic growth and ageing populations, a key element in today’s policy debate is the role of government in providing its services and distributing resources to society. Government decisions on tax and social benefit systems have an important bearing on macroeconomic performance in the euro area. This article focuses on how social spending on individual households or on the provision of collective goods and services is organised in euro area countries. Choices made concerning the level and structure of social spending are country-specific and reflect societal policy preferences. The aim of this article is to review government social spending across euro area countries and how it has evolved since the pre-crisis period. It also zooms in on the different social insurance systems in euro area countries in terms of pensions and health and looks at spending on education. We devote particular attention to the analysis of pensions, as pensions represent the biggest social spending item in all countries. The article suggests that countries should look for policies and reforms to ensure the sustainability of social spending, especially in view of ageing populations and possible negative economic shocks.
JEL Code
E62 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook→Fiscal Policy
H40 : Public Economics→Publicly Provided Goods→General
H51 : Public Economics→National Government Expenditures and Related Policies→Government Expenditures and Health
H52 : Public Economics→National Government Expenditures and Related Policies→Government Expenditures and Education
H55 : Public Economics→National Government Expenditures and Related Policies→Social Security and Public Pensions
19 November 2018
This statistical paper describes and explains a specific tool enabling statisticians to gain additional insights and assess the consistency of government finance statistics (GFS): analysis of the deficit-debt adjustment (DDA), or stock-flow adjustment (SFA). The DDA reconciles two key government indicators – the government deficit/surplus and government debt. DDA analysis helps to establish whether these statistics are plausible and reliable by exploring the consistency between governments’ non-financial accounts (measuring the government deficit/surplus) and financial accounts (measuring government debt at market value). It also takes into account valuation differences between the financial accounts and government debt measured at face value (Maastricht debt). Recent years’ GFS for the euro area aggregate and the individual euro area countries (and, where useful, other EU Member States’ data) are used to illustrate DDA analysis. The dataset bridging the government deficit and the change in government debt reveals many aspects of a government’s economic policies. For instance, the components of the DDA shed light on its equity investments or privatisations, its use of investment in financial reserves, some aspects of its debt management and the accumulation of fiscal or social arrears.
JEL Code
H62 : Public Economics→National Budget, Deficit, and Debt→Deficit, Surplus
H63 : Public Economics→National Budget, Deficit, and Debt→Debt, Debt Management, Sovereign Debt
30 October 2007
The preparations for the introduction of the euro in 1999 involved the need for a new set of statistics for the euro area. Since then, significant progress has been made with regard to the coverage, timeliness and accuracy of these statistics. The reliability of the first releases - i.e. their stability in the process of later revisions - is an important quality-related feature. New data releases for the euro area have generally shown a very small or no bias, i.e. data revisions have been very modest and comparable with those of, for example, the United States or Japan. Despite the relatively small size of revisions, however, their combination with the low growth of the euro area economy may have drawn attention to such revisions of economic data for the euro area. This paper quantifies the revisions to selected key indicators in the period from the start of Monetary Union in 1999 to July 2007 and compares them with the corresponding mediumterm averages (1999-2006). The analysis covers the euro area, its six largest member countries, the United Kingdom, the United States and Japan. For this purpose, available time series for the various periods involved are used, series that record all revisions to published statistical data releases. The analysis is carried out separately for GDP growth and its expenditure components, for employment, unemployment rates, compensation per employee, labour cost indicators, industrial production, retail trade turnover and consumer prices. Overall, the evidence presented in this paper suggests that euro area data releases have generally shown a very small or no bias and have been more stable than those for individual euro area countries. Furthermore, recent euro area data how levels of revisions similar to those of the past, or levels of revisions that stabilised after the implementation of harmonised statistical concepts had largely been completed.
JEL Code
E01 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→General→Measurement and Data on National Income and Product Accounts and Wealth, Environmental Accounts
E21 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Consumption, Saving, Production, Investment, Labor Markets, and Informal Economy→Consumption, Saving, Wealth
E24 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Consumption, Saving, Production, Investment, Labor Markets, and Informal Economy→Employment, Unemployment, Wages, Intergenerational Income Distribution, Aggregate Human Capital
E31 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles→Price Level, Inflation, Deflation
E5 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit