The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
Sanjeev Gupta, João Tovar Jalles, Carlos Mulas-Granados, and Michela Schena
INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND
This paper analyses the causes and consequences of fiscal consolidation promise gaps, defined
as the distance between planned fiscal adjustments and actual consolidations. Using 74
consolidation episodes derived from the narrative approach in 17 advanced economies during
1978 - 2015, the paper shows that promise gaps were sizeable (about 0.3 percent of GDP per
year, or 1.1 percent of GDP during an average fiscal adjustment episode). Both economic and
political factors explain the gaps: for example, greater electoral proximity, stronger political
cohesion and higher accountability were all associated with smaller promise gaps. Finally,
governments which delivered on their fiscal consolidation plans were rewarded by financial
markets and not penalized by voters.