Some governments currently have austerity policies, which involves large cuts in public spending. The claim made is that this is necessary to reduce the country's deficit, and boost the growth of the economy.

Opponents to austerity claim that it is more effective to spend public money in such a way that stimulates growth, because citizens have more available money to spend as consumers, boosting the economy.

I'm using Britain as an example of austerity in recent times, but I mean for the question to be about austerity in general, and its efficacy as a government policy, rather than a review of the British Government's policy.

The BBC describes an 'old debate' between cutting and increasing spending in response to an economic downturn, and it is a controversial topic in British politics, so I believe that this is a notable claim.

What I've tried

My research has almost certainly been biased by my personal, ideological, opposition to austerity policies. I'm really interested in a scientific, evidence-based evaluation of austerity.

  • Reasearch from the IMF seems to show that austerity is less effective than previously thought.

  • A special report by the Guardian (A left-wing newspaper) contains lots of graphs and charts that imply austerity is ineffective, and a 'delusion'.

It took a while to escape my filter bubble and find pro-austerity content:

  • The Telegraph states that austerity has had a positive impact on British manufacturing, services, and economic growth.

  • Writing in the Financial Times, Chris Giles uses Greece as an example of austerity working, because its deficit reduced from 2009 to 2013.

I've tried to keep my question specific by focusing on the effect on growth and debt (which should be fairly measurable), but I think other significant harms or benefits of austerity are also of interest to people like me, who are trying to develop an informed opinion on the matter.

  • 1
    In short - you cant do only one of them. If the state wastes a lot of money it needs to be cut back. If the economy is being crippled it needs to be boosted. Nice question though and im looking forward to a more scientific answer. May 1 '16 at 21:32
  • You'd probably have more success with this question at Economics.SE. There are similar questions there already.
    – Oddthinking
    May 1 '16 at 22:09
  • @JamesCameron That seems very reasonable, but intuitively I would have assumed that macroeconomic systems somehow operate differently from personal finances. I don't have a very solid understanding of how countries' finances work. I'm also looking forward to learning from a scientific answer.
    – Gilly
    May 1 '16 at 22:47
  • 1
    Since economists don't agree about this, voting to close as opinion based. Had this question on Politics site and the only possible answer is 'we don't know'. May 2 '16 at 1:30
  • 2
    This seems to be something to write a book about. Please make your question specific and factual.
    – Sklivvz
    May 2 '16 at 9:27

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