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Economic Growth and the Budget Deficit - Chains of Reasoning

AS, A-Level, IB
AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB, Eduqas, WJEC

Last updated 6 Feb 2022

Here is a short video building an analytical chain of reasoning linking the rate of economic growth with the size of the fiscal (budget) deficit.

Economic Growth and the Budget Deficit - Chains of Reasoning

Analyse why a higher rate of economic growth for a country is likely to reduce a government's budget deficit.

  • A budget deficit occurs when state spending exceeds tax revenues causing the government to borrow money through the issue of bonds.
  • An increase in short term economic growth represents an expansion of real GDP which in theory will lead to higher per capita incomes and rising consumer spending.
  • As a result, the revenues received from direct tax revenues such as income tax and indirect taxes such as VAT will grow.
  • For example, as unemployment falls, there will be more people in work earning above £50,000 a year at which the marginal tax rate rises from 20% to 40%
  • Thus, if more people are earning higher incomes, state spending on means-tested welfare support such as universal credit will also drop.
  • Consequently, we expect a period of rapid economic growth to cut a fiscal deficit.

Context for exam application

In 2019, the UK government borrowed £57 billion which was 2.7% of GDP. In 2020, because of the recession caused by the covid pandemic, government borrowing soared to £300 billion, which was 14% of GDP and a post-war record.

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