Ausgaben senken und die Armen schonen

PARIS – Warum geben einige Staaten mehr aus als andere? Die Frage ist komplizierter, als es scheint, besonders im Fall der europäischen Staaten.

Die Antwort mag vielleicht offensichtlich erscheinen, wenn man Länder wie zum Beispiel Dänemark (wo sich die Staatsausgaben ohne Zinszahlungen für Schulden 2012 auf 58 % des BIP beliefen) und die Vereinigten Staaten (wo dieser Wert bei 35 % lag) vergleicht. Umfangreiche öffentliche Dienstleistungen und ein umfassender Sozialstaat scheinen die unumstrittene Erklärung dafür zu sein. Die Daten scheinen den berühmten Satz von Kanzlerin Angela Merkel zu untermauern, Europas Problem sei, dass es 7 % der Weltbevölkerung ausmache, 25 % des weltweiten BIP und 50 % der weltweiten Sozialausgaben.

So betrachtet stehen die europäischen Regierungen vor einer unbequemen Entscheidung. Die meisten suchen nach Möglichkeiten, die Staatsverschuldung einzudämmen, Defizite zu senken und die Ausgaben zu kürzen, ohne dass ihre ärmeren Bürger schlechter dastehen. Doch nach den Erfahrungen der USA und anderer nichteuropäischer Länder zu urteilen, müssen sie vielleicht zwischen Zahlungsunfähigkeit oder Ungleichheit wählen. Sie haben nun den Punkt erreicht, an dem sie die Steuern kaum weiter erhöhen können, und so können diese Staaten nicht gleichzeitig ihre Schulden zurückzahlen und die Sozialausgaben auf dem derzeitigen Niveau halten.

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