OECD Journal on Budgeting

Frequency :
3 times a year
1681-2336 (online)
1608-7143 (print)
Next Issue: 22 Dec 2014
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The OECD journal on public sector budgeting, published three times per year. It draws on the best of the recent work of the OECD Working Party of Senior Budget Officials (SBO), as well as special contributions from finance ministries, and makes it available to a wider community in an accessible format. The journal provides insight on leading-edge institutional arrangements, systems and instruments for the allocation and management of resources in the public sector. Now published as a part of the OECD Journal subscription package.

Also available in: French

Latest Articles Hide / Show all Abstracts

Mark Number Date Article Volume and Issue Click to Access
  12 Dec 2014 Coping with fiscal risk
George Kopits

Against the background of the recent financial crisis that in many countries metastasised into significant fiscal stress, this article reviews the analysis, management and mitigation of fiscal risks. On the basis of the classification of specific, general and systemic types, fiscal risks have been estimated directly, and more recently, through sensitivity tests on baseline macro-fiscal projections. Although still at an experimental stage, valuable insights have been gained for implementation of various stochastic methods. The article draws a number of lessons for improved management and mitigation of fiscal risks from a recent OECD survey of country practices. This suggests scope for improvement on a number of fronts: disclosure and estimation of risks; assignment of such tasks within the public sector; adoption of various insurance schemes; building special-purpose reserves; and enacting well-designed fiscal rules, along with effective no-bailout provisions. At the policy level, it is necessary to adopt a countercyclical policy stance especially during economic booms; to enforce transparent accounting and forecasting practices; and where necessary, to undertake structural reform in key areas. An additional overarching lesson from the financial crisis is the need to assess and prevent systemic fiscal risk through close co-ordination with an independent macroprudential supervisory authority.

JEL classification: H5, H12, H41
Keywords: Fiscal risk, fiscal rules, countercyclical policy, systemic risk, stochastic methods

Online first Click to Access: 
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  • http://www.keepeek.com/Digital-Asset-Management/oecd/governance/coping-with-fiscal-risk_budget-14-5jxrgssdqnlt
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  02 Dec 2014 The abuse and misuse of the term "Austerity" Implications for OECD countries
Barry Anderson, Elizabeth Minneman

Austerity has become a widely used term in economic research and popular media as many countries have recently implemented deficit reduction policies. This article begins by exploring definitions of austerity used in research and the ways these different definitions impact analysis of policy effects. The article then takes into account a number of factors that can affect the outcome of these so-called austerity measures, including economic conditions, time period, and parties impacted by the policies. Without a clear definition of austerity and the contexts under which it is implemented, a conclusive analysis of austerity’s effects cannot be conducted. This article concludes that the term "austerity" will remain a confusing term that can breed misunderstanding, social uprisings, political unrest, and ill-prescribed solutions to economic problems.

JEL classification: H10, H12, H41, H60
Keywords: Austerity, spending cuts, deficits, tax increases, recession

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  • http://www.keepeek.com/Digital-Asset-Management/oecd/governance/the-abuse-and-misuse-of-the-term-austerity-implications-for-oecd-countries_budget-14-5jxrmdxc6sq1
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  24 Nov 2014 The challenge of budgeting for healthcare programmes
Joseph White

The OECD has created a Joint Network on Fiscal Sustainability of Health Systems. This article, developed as input to that project, seeks to summarise both why budgeting for healthcare is particularly challenging and why the challenge is often misunderstood. I argue that sustainability is a political, not fiscal, issue; that common explanations of increased spending, such as "ageing" and "technology", are either inaccurate or unhelpful; and that the nature of public support for healthcare means that standard budgetary worldviews may not be appropriate in a representative system. For example, both a focus on "fiscal space" and distrust of dedicated revenues may be contrary to budgetary values of both representation and balance. I offer explanations of why demand for healthcare spending both is peculiarly intense and tends to expand because notions of "necessary" care expand. Budget-making is made more difficult by a uniquely confusing proliferation of ideas about how to control spending, many of which are supported more by disciplinary biases than by hard evidence. I conclude by considering the impact of two structural features: whether services are delivered by a bureau or as an entitlement, and whether it is funded by dedicated revenues. The challenges can be met, but hardheaded and sceptical budget analysis is especially important.

JEL classification: H51, H6, E62, H2, I1, J11, O33, P16, Z18
Keywords: Budgeting, healthcare spending, ageing society, Baumol’s disease, dedicated revenues, efficiency, entitlements, redistribution, technology, unsustainability

Online first Click to Access: 
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  • http://www.keepeek.com/Digital-Asset-Management/oecd/governance/the-challenge-of-budgeting-for-healthcare-programmes_budget-14-5jxst2mfm923
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  04 Nov 2014 Estimates of uncertainty around Australian budget forecasts
John Clark, Caroline Gibbons, Susan Morrissey, Joshua Pooley, Emily Pye, Rhett Wilcox, Luke Willard

In this article, past forecast errors are used to construct confidence intervals around Australian Government Budget forecasts of key economic and fiscal variables. These confidence intervals provide an indication of the extent of uncertainty around the point estimate forecasts presented in the Budget.

JEL classification numbers: E17, H68.
Keywords: Confidence intervals, forecast errors, government budget, nominal GDP, real GDP, treasury, uncertainty.

Volume 13 Issue 3 Click to Access: 
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  • http://www.keepeek.com/Digital-Asset-Management/oecd/governance/estimates-of-uncertainty-around-australian-budget-forecasts_budget-13-5jxvd4xlns7j
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  04 Nov 2014 The Swedish pension system after twenty years
Kent Weaver, Alexander Willén

Elements of the Swedish pension reform enacted in the 1990s have served as a model for reform initiatives in a number of other countries. Sweden’s experience suggests that a Notional Defined Contribution (NDC) pension reform can be sustained in a supportive political environment, but it has not been immune to electoral pressures to prevent visible cuts in pension benefits. Moreover, efforts to lengthen working lives have encountered major barriers both in the way that the state pension system is perceived and in the structure of the occupational pension system. Design of Sweden’s individual account tier has major successes in lowering administrative costs and in providing information across sources of retirement income, but efforts to increase active engagement in selecting retirement savings portfolios have faltered. Sweden has modified its new pension system in several ways over the past decade to address perceived problems and political concerns, and debates are now arising on a "Pension Reform 2.0" package of more comprehensive changes.

JEL classification: H5, H55.
Keywords: Pension reform, pension system, income contribution, retirement, stabilising mechanisms.

Volume 13 Issue 3 Click to Access: 
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  • http://www.keepeek.com/Digital-Asset-Management/oecd/governance/the-swedish-pension-system-after-twenty-years_budget-13-5jxx3sx58x9t
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  04 Nov 2014 The impact of cost-containment policies on health expenditure
Rodrigo Moreno-Serra

Many governments have enacted health cost-containment policies in recent years, and many are currently considering further reform alternatives to tackle growing health spending and promote efficiency in the health system, particularly in light of projections regarding future cost pressures in this sector. The focus of this study is to assess the most robust empirical evidence on the public spending effects of health policy alternatives to contain excess cost growth in the system. A stylised theoretical framework of the relationships between potential cost-containment measures, economic incentives and quantities, and health expenditure is suggested. The developed framework provides structural guidance for reviewing the evidence on the cost-containment impacts of various reforms implemented in OECD countries in the last decades. The accumulated evidence indicates that there are various alternative policies in a government’s toolkit that can be combined to achieve better cost control in the health system, provided institutional aspects and policy interactions are carefully considered.

JEL classification: I10, I18, H51.
Keywords: Health financing, cost containment, provider payment, health system reform.

Volume 13 Issue 3 Click to Access: 
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  • http://www.keepeek.com/Digital-Asset-Management/oecd/governance/the-impact-of-cost-containment-policies-on-health-expenditure_budget-13-5jxx2wl6lp9p
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  04 Nov 2014 Evaluating the capability of the UK Treasury, 1990-2013
Richard Allen

The strength of the United Kingdom’s central finance agency (H.M. Treasury) has been attributed to its broad and powerful influence on policy issues; the high intellectual standards of its staff; the relatively clear division between the "official" treasury and the political level; and the important role played by the permanent secretary as an anchor and point of communication between officials and ministers. To maintain its power the Treasury has to adapt quickly to changing economic and political circumstances, most recently the global financial crisis. It has also engaged in two major reorganisations over the past 20 years, which have resulted in a substantial streamlining of the organisation, a flattening of the management structure, and a casting out of functions regarded as peripheral to its core finance and economic mandate. Some critics, however, have argued that the performance of the Treasury has failed, and that the department needs to be cut back to its traditional role as a budget and finance ministry.

JEL classification: H50, H54, H80, H83.
Keywords: Treasury, finance ministry, central finance agency, public finance, organisation, change management.

Volume 13 Issue 3 Click to Access: 
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  • http://www.keepeek.com/Digital-Asset-Management/oecd/governance/evaluating-the-capability-of-the-uk-treasury-1990-2013_budget-13-5jxx2xcvjpth
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