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The Size and Composition of Government Spending in Europe and Its Impact on Well-Being

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  • Zohal Hessami

Abstract

This paper empirically analyzes whether large governments in Europe reflect efficient responses to a changing social and economic environment ('welfare economic view') as opposed to wasteful spending ('public choice view'). To this end, the effect of government size on subjective well-being is estimated in a combined survey and country-level dataset covering 153,268 respondents from twelve EU countries over the 1990-2000 period. The first finding is an inversely U-shaped relationship between government size and well-being. In addition, the analysis suggests that given the high institutional quality as compared to other parts of the world there might be scope for a further enlargement of governments in the EU from a well-being perspective. However, one must acknowledge that the effect on well-being may be quite small and that democratic societies in Europe have no experience with even larger governments. The investigation also reveals that the impact of government size on well-being depends negatively on levels of corruption and positively on the extent of decentralization. Moreover, left-wing voters and low-income earners are the main beneficiaries of a large public sector. Finally, in all twelve EU countries included in the sample higher levels of well-being could have been achieved by allocating a higher share of public resources to education, while Finland and Germany could have given an additional boost to well-being by cutting expenditures on social protection. Copyright � 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd..

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal Kyklos.

Volume (Year): 63 (2010)
Issue (Month): 3 (08)
Pages: 346-382

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Handle: RePEc:bla:kyklos:v:63:y:2010:i:3:p:346-382

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Cited by:
  1. Akay, Alpaslan & Bargain, Olivier & Dolls, Mathias & Neumann, Dirk & Peichl, Andreas & Siegloch, Sebastian, 2012. "Happy Taxpayers? Income Taxation and Well-Being," IZA Discussion Papers 6999, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Yamamura, Eiji, 2010. "The effects of information asymmetry and government size on happiness: A case study from Japan," MPRA Paper 27182, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Bernd Hayo & Florian Neumeier, 2012. "Leaders’ Impact on Public Spending Priorities: The Case of the German Laender," MAGKS Papers on Economics 201209, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
  4. Seoyong Kim & Donggeun Kim, 2012. "Does Government Make People Happy?: Exploring New Research Directions for Government’s Roles in Happiness," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 13(5), pages 875-899, October.
  5. Luis Diaz-Serrano & Andrés Rodríguez-Pose, 2012. "Decentralization, Subjective Well-Being And The Perception Of Institutions," ERSA conference papers ersa12p586, European Regional Science Association.
  6. Hessami, Zohal, 2011. "Globalization's winners and losers--Evidence from life satisfaction data, 1975-2001," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 112(3), pages 250-253, September.
  7. Sequeira, Tiago & Minas, Tiago & Ferreira-Lopes, Alexandra, 2014. "Do Large Governments Decrease Happiness?," MPRA Paper 54418, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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