Revisiting the Countercyclicality of Fiscal Policy


João Tovar Jalles ; Youssouf Kiendrebeogo ; Waikei R Lam ; Roberto Piazza

Publication Date:

April 29, 2023

Electronic Access:

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Disclaimer: IMF Working Papers describe research in progress by the author(s) and are published to elicit comments and to encourage debate. The views expressed in IMF Working Papers are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of the IMF, its Executive Board, or IMF management.


This paper provides a novel dataset of time-varying measures on the degree of countercyclicality of fiscal policies for advanced and developing economies between 1980 and 2021. The use of time-varying measures of fiscal stabilization, with special attention to potential endogenity issues, overcomes the major limitation of previous studies and alllows the analysis to account for both country-specific as well as global factors. The paper also examines the key determinants of countercyclicality of fiscal policy with a focus on factors as severe crises, informality, financial development, and governance. Empirical results show that (i) fiscal policy tends to be more counter-cyclical during severe crises than typical recessions, especially for advanced economies; (ii) fiscal counter-cyclicality has increased over time for many economies over the last two decades; (iii) discretionary and automatic countercyclicality are both strong in advanced economies but acyclical (at times procyclical) in low-income countries, (iv) fiscal countercyclicality operates primarily through the expenditure channel, particularly for social benefits, (vi) better financial development, larger government size and stronger institutional quality are associated with larger countercyclical effects of fiscal policy. Our results are robust to various specifications and endogeneity checks.


Working Paper No. 2023/089





Publication Date:

April 29, 2023



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