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In The Netherlands, the Centraal Planbureau (Central Planning Bureau, Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis) is an independent government agency that delivers economic analysis of policy plans, among other things. Prior to the elections, all political parties deliver their plans to the CPB. Then the CPB calculates the effects on purchasing power, employment, economic growth, etc. Subsequently, each party cherry-picks the effects that favour their party and use this in campaigning and debates. The CPB also calculates the effects of government plans.

A recent survey has shown that many people have little trust in the forecasts by the CPB, for example, here in Dutch. Perhaps peculiar: the electorate of the small-government party Democraten '66 have the highest trust, whereas the electorate of the pro-welfare state Socialistische Partij have one of the lowest. I consider myself one of those who has little to no trust in their calculations.

Do any analogues of this system exist in other countries? Are there any countries where independent government agencies systematically calculate the economic effects of policy plans by government, opposition, or individual parties, and where those figures are then subject of political debate?

  • +1, especially for "each party cherry-picks the effects that favour their party" :) – user4012 Mar 5 '13 at 16:15
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    I'd suggest removing the second paragraph, as it isn't really germane to the actual question. – user1530 Apr 4 '13 at 18:02
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Purely theoretically, CBO (Congressional Budget Office) in USA serves something of a similar purpose, but with a different scope. While the bureau you discussed calculates about policy by opposition, individual parties, etc..., CBO reports on specific topics, all approved bills, and special requests by Congressional Committees.

how do you decide what you study?

CBO’s chief responsibility under the Congressional Budget Act is to help the House and Senate Budget Committees with the matters under their jurisdiction. CBO also supports other Congressional committees—particularly the Appropriations, Ways and Means, and Finance Committees—and the Congressional leadership.

CBO produces a number of reports specified in statute, of which the best known is the annual Budget and Economic Outlook. Other CBO reports that are required by law or have become regular products of the agency owing to a high, sustained level of interest by the Congress are described in our products.

In addition, CBO is required by law to produce a formal cost estimate for nearly every bill that is “reported” (approved) by a full committee of either House of Congress; the only exceptions are appropriation bills, which do not receive formal cost estimates. (CBO provides information on their budgetary impact to the appropriation committees.) CBO also produces formal cost estimates at other stages of the legislative process if requested to do so by a relevant committee or by the Congressional leadership. Moreover, the agency produces informal cost estimates for a much larger number of legislative proposals that Congressional committees consider in the process of developing legislation.

Beyond its regular reports and cost estimates, CBO prepares analytic reports at the request of the Congressional leadership or Chairmen or Ranking Minority Members of committees or subcommittees. CBO analysts work with requesters and their staffs to understand the scope and nature of the work that would be most useful to the Congress.


And yes, CBO is nowhere near universally trusted. Here are random examples from recent years:

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Many – thought not all – European countries have similar institutions, and many of them are a member of the EU Independent Fiscal Institutions Network.

That Wikipedia page has a list of participating organisations; most seem similar to the Dutch CPB in their mandate.

Here's the list:

  • Austria – Fiskalrat – FISK
  • Bulgaria – Fiscal council being created
  • Cyprus – Cyprus Fiscal Council – CFC
  • Czech republic – No fiscal council established
  • Denmark – Danish Economic Council – DEC
  • Estonia – Estonian Fiscal Council – EFC
  • Finland – National Audit Office – NAO
  • France – Haut Conseil des finances publiques – HCPF
  • Germany – Independent Advisory Board of the Stability Council – IAB
  • Greece – Fiscal Council
  • Greece – Parliamentary Budget Office – PBO
  • Hungary – Fiscal Council of Hungary – FC
  • Ireland – Irish Fiscal Advisory Council – IFAC
  • Italy – Parliamentary Budget Office – PBO
  • Latvia – Fiscal Discipline Council – FDP
  • Lithuania – National Audit Office – NAO
  • Luxembourg – Conseil National des Finances Publiques – CNFP
  • Malta – Malta Fiscal Advisory Council – MFAC
  • Netherlands – Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis – CPB
  • Netherlands – Raad van State – Raad van State
  • Poland – No fiscal council established
  • Portugal – Portuguese Public Finance Council – CFP
  • Romania – Romanian Fiscal Council – FC
  • Slovakia – Council for Budget Responsibility – CBR
  • Spain – Independent Authority for Fiscal Responsibility – AIReF
  • Sweden – Swedish Fiscal Policy Council – SFPC
  • United Kingdom – Office for Budget Responsibility – OBR
  • You linked the Netherlands Raad van State but that is a quite different institute than the Centraal Planbureau. That makes me wonder how similar the other ones are in their roles. – gerrit Apr 22 '17 at 22:09
  • @gerrit I checked a bunch, all of them seemed similar to CPB. Raad van State is probably a member because it gives advice on a wide range of topics - including economics, fiscal policy, and such. – user11249 Apr 22 '17 at 22:14

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