Ricardian Equivalence


DEFINITION of 'Ricardian Equivalence'

An economic theory that suggests that when a government tries to stimulate demand by increasing debt-financed government spending, demand remains unchanged. This is because the public will save its excess money in order to pay for future tax increases that will be initiated to pay off the debt. This theory was developed by David Ricardo in the nineteenth century, but Harvard professor Robert Barro would implement Ricardo's ideas into more elaborate versions of the same concept.

Also known as "Barro-Ricardo equivalence proposition"

BREAKING DOWN 'Ricardian Equivalence'

The basic idea behind Ricardo's theory is that no matter how a government chooses to increase spending, whether with debt financing or tax financing, the outcome will be the same and demand will remain unchanged. The major arguments against Ricardo's theory are due to the unrealistic assumptions on which the theory is based, such as the assumptions of the existence of perfect capital markets, the ability for individuals to borrow and save whenever they want, and the assumption that individuals will be willing to save for a future tax increase even though they may not see it in their lifetimes. Furthermore, the theory provided by Ricardo goes against the more popular theories provided by Keynesian economics.

  1. Fiscal Policy

    Government spending policies that influence macroeconomic conditions. ...
  2. Keynesian Economics

    An economic theory of total spending in the economy and its effects ...
  3. Taxes

    An involuntary fee levied on corporations or individuals that ...
  4. Debt Financing

    When a firm raises money for working capital or capital expenditures ...
  5. Demand Shock

    A sudden surprise event that temporarily increases or decreases ...
  6. Crowding Out Effect

    An economic theory stipulating that rises in public sector spending ...
Related Articles
  1. Economics

    Economics Basics

    Learn economics principles such as the relationship of supply and demand, elasticity, utility, and more!
  2. Options & Futures

    Explaining The World Through Macroeconomic Analysis

    From unemployment and inflation to government policy, learn what macroeconomics measures and how it affects everyone.
  3. Retirement

    Economic Indicators To Know

    The economy has a large impact on the market. Learn how to interpret the most important reports.
  4. Investing

    Which GOP Candidate Brings What to the Table?

    What are the major GOP presidential candidates' economic plans and how do they differ?
  5. Economics

    Benefits of China Changing It's One Child Policy

    China's one-child policy is changing, and investors are looking for ways to cash in. The reform might not have the effects that many anticipate, however.
  6. Entrepreneurship

    START-UP NY: How a Tax-Free Zone Would Work

    START-UP NY is an initiative designed to attract companies to New York State by giving them 10 years of tax breaks. Sounds good, but is it a success?
  7. Economics

    Explaining Capital Flows

    The movement of money for investing, trade or business production, is commonly referred to as capital flows.
  8. Economics

    Explaining Economic Integration

    Economic integration reduces or eliminates trade barriers among nations, and coordinates monetary and fiscal policies.
  9. Investing

    How Much Money Will It Take to Become President in 2016?

    Learn why the 2016 presidential election is likely to be the most expensive race ever, and estimate how much it is going to take the eventual winner to prevail.
  10. Investing

    Will Donald Trump Be Able to Fund His Entire Campaign?

    Discover why Donald Trump's extravagant wealth and vast net worth may still not be sufficient to self-finance a successful presidential campaign in 2016.
  1. What does the Ricardian Equivalence say about budget deficits?

    The theory of Ricardian equivalence states that government deficit spending will not increase aggregate demand because consumers ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What is the Ricardian vice?

    The Ricardian vice refers to abstract model-building and mathematical formulas with unrealistic assumptions. In simpler terms, ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What is the Social Security administration responsible for?

    The main responsibility of the U.S. Social Security Administration, or SSA, is overseeing the country's Social Security program. ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Where are the Social Security administration headquarters?

    The U.S. Social Security Administration, or SSA, is headquartered in Woodlawn, Maryland, a suburb just outside of Baltimore. ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. Is the Social Security administration a government corporation?

    The U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) is a government agency, not a government corporation. President Franklin Roosevelt ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. How does the role of Medicare/Medicaid affect the drugs sector in the U.S.?

    Medicare and Medicaid have enormous influence on the pharmaceutical, or drugs, sector in the United States. For instance, ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Zero-Sum Game

    A situation in which one person’s gain is equivalent to another’s loss, so that the net change in wealth or benefit is zero. ...
  2. Capitalization Rate

    The rate of return on a real estate investment property based on the income that the property is expected to generate.
  3. Gross Profit

    A company's total revenue (equivalent to total sales) minus the cost of goods sold. Gross profit is the profit a company ...
  4. Revenue

    The amount of money that a company actually receives during a specific period, including discounts and deductions for returned ...
  5. Normal Profit

    An economic condition occurring when the difference between a firm’s total revenue and total cost is equal to zero.
  6. Operating Cost

    Expenses associated with the maintenance and administration of a business on a day-to-day basis.
Trading Center
You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!