Essays on population aging, fiscal policy, and international tax exporting

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Douglas J. Holtz-Eakin


Population aging, Fiscal policy, Tax exporting, International capital flows, Trade liberalization

Subject Categories

Economics | Social and Behavioral Sciences


This dissertation consists of three essays in public economics. In the first two essays, I examine the relationship between population aging, fiscal policy decisions, and open capital markets. The last essay is a study on international taxation.

In Essay I, I consider projected population aging in both developed and developing countries. This paper explores the roles of both a politically responsive fiscal policy and international capital mobility to explain the effects of worldwide population aging trend on growth and welfare of countries. It also has a scenario analysis for the timing of developing country aging. The results show that the interaction of capital mobility and endogenous fiscal policy may reverse the effects of aging on growth and welfare as predicted by closed economy and exogenous fiscal policy models. Furthermore, countries' reactions differ significantly with the timing of the demographic shocks.

Essay II is coauthored by Douglas J. Holtz-Eakin and Mary E. Lovely. We investigate the effect of a demographic transition on the endogenous determination of public spending for education. A demographic transition alters the identity of the median voter, leading to a preference for less education spending. If the public sector is inefficiently small, demographic transition exacerbates the under-provision of human capital. Alternatively, such a shift may trim an inefficiently large government, reduce tax rates and raise capital per worker enough to raise education spending. Thus, there is no automatic link between demographic transition and reduced support for government programs that primarily benefit the young.

The third and the final essay is an empirical study on tax revenue changes and tax exporting incentives. The goal is to provide empirical estimates of the degree to which policymakers take advantage of their ability to substitute exportable domestic taxes for direct taxes on international transactions. I provide evidence that there has been a statistically and economically significant move from international trade taxes to domestic taxes on goods and services in non-OECD countries as a result of significant trade liberalization since mid-1980s. This is particularly important since it may reflect the policymakers' desire to export the taxes on goods and services that cross borders.


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