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Growth of government and the politics of fiscal policy

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  • Ghate, Chetan
  • Zak, Paul J.

Abstract

U.S. government expenditures increased rapidly during the post-war period, then slowed in the 1980s and began falling in 1992. To examine the dynamics of the growth and subsequent reduction in government spending, we present a dynamic general equilibrium model in which politicians choose government spending to maximize support by their constituents. The model predicts that government expenditures will initially mimic Wagner's law - the tendency for government spending to increase with GDP - but eventually diverge from output due to the growth of the welfare state. After government expenditures become large, we identify an endogenous threshold on the economy's growth path where it is optimal for politicians to shrink the welfare sate, cut taxes, and stimulate output growth. We show that the policies chosen by politicians are Pareto suboptimal and cause endogenous cycles in output. Such cycles are of several types, and we characterize when the equilibrium growth path will result in a reduction in the size of the welfare state, as well as when the welfare state cycles between small and large.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Structural Change and Economic Dynamics.

Volume (Year): 13 (2002)
Issue (Month): 4 (December)
Pages: 435-455

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Handle: RePEc:eee:streco:v:13:y:2002:i:4:p:435-455

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/525148

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  1. Perron, Pierre, 1989. "The Great Crash, the Oil Price Shock, and the Unit Root Hypothesis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(6), pages 1361-1401, November.
  2. Henrekson, Magnus, 1993. "Wagner's Law--A Spurious Relationship?," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 48(3), pages 406-15.
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  4. Persson, Torsten & Roland , Gérard & Tabellini, Guido, 1997. "Comparative Politics and Public Finance," Seminar Papers 633, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
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  17. Bohl, Martin T, 1996. "Some International Evidence on Wagner's Law," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 51(2), pages 185-200.
  18. Park, Wan Kyu, 1996. "Wagner's Law vs. Keynesian Paradigm: The Korean Experience," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 51(1), pages 71-91.
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  20. Husted, Thomas A & Kenny, Lawrence W, 1997. "The Effect of the Expansion of the Voting Franchise on the Size of Government," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(1), pages 54-82, February.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Dalia Grigonyté, 2003. "Impact of Currency Boards on Fiscal Policy in Central and Eastern European Countries," Economic Change and Restructuring, Springer, vol. 36(2), pages 111-133, June.
  2. Chetan Ghate & Paul J. Zak, 2003. "The Politics of Endogenous Growth," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 320, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  3. Sanz, Ismael & Velazquez, Francisco J, 2003. "What do OECD countries cut first at a time of fiscal adjustments? A dynamic panel data approach," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt4j744960, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  4. Tatiana Fic & Chetan Ghate, 2004. "The Welfare State, Thresholds, and Economic Growth," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 424, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  5. Karl Farmer, 2006. "Reducing Public Debt under Dynamic Efficiency: Transitional Dynamics in Diamond's OLG Model," Atlantic Economic Journal, International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 34(2), pages 195-208, June.
  6. Durevall, Dick & Henrekson, Magnus, 2011. "The futile quest for a grand explanation of long-run government expenditure," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7), pages 708-722.
  7. Michael E. S. Hoffman, 2005. "Political and Public Finance Motives for Tariffs," International Trade 0510016, EconWPA.
  8. Knack, Stephen & Zak, Paul J., 2001. "Building trust: public policy, interpersonal trust and economic development," MPRA Paper 25055, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  9. Paul J. Zak, 2002. "Institutions, Property Rights, and Growth," Recherches économiques de Louvain, De Boeck Université, vol. 68(1), pages 55-73.

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