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On the size and growth of government

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Author Info

  • Thomas A. Garrett
  • Russell M. Rhine

Abstract

The size of the U.S. federal government, as well as state and local governments, increased dramatically during the 20th century. This paper reviews several theories of government size and growth that are dominant in the public choice and political science literature. The theories are divided into two categories: citizen-over-state theories and state-over-citizen theories. The relationship between the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the timing of government growth is also presented. It is likely that portions of each theory can explain government size and growth, but the challenge facing economists is to develop a single unifying theory of government growth.

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File URL: http://research.stlouisfed.org/publications/review/06/01/GarrettRhine.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in its journal Review.

Volume (Year): (2006)
Issue (Month): Jan ()
Pages: 13-30

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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlrv:y:2006:i:jan:p:13-30:n:v.88no.1

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Related research

Keywords: Economic development ; Expenditures; Public ; Local government ; Federal government;

References

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  1. Dani Rodrik, 1998. "Why Do More Open Economies Have Bigger Governments?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(5), pages 997-1032, October.
  2. Becker, Gary S, 1983. "A Theory of Competition among Pressure Groups for Political Influence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 98(3), pages 371-400, August.
  3. Sam Peltzman, 1980. "The Growth of Government," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 1, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
  4. James Bennett & Manuel Johnson, 1979. "Public versus private provision of collective goods and services: garbage collection revisited," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 34(1), pages 55-63, March.
  5. Oates, Wallace E, 1985. "Searching for Leviathan: An Empirical Study," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(4), pages 748-57, September.
  6. Thomas A. Garrett & Russell M. Rhine, 2005. "Social security versus private retirement accounts: a historical analysis," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Mar, pages 103-121.
  7. Clarkson, Kenneth W, 1972. "Some Implications of Property Rights in Hospital Management," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(2), pages 363-84, October.
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  9. Rogers Ahlbrandt, 1973. "Efficiency in the provision of fire services," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 16(1), pages 1-15, September.
  10. Ferris, J Stephen & West, Edwin G, 1999. " Cost Disease versus Leviathan Explanations of Rising Government Cost: An Empirical Investigation," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 98(3-4), pages 307-16, March.
  11. Brennan,Geoffrey & Buchanan,James M., 1980. "The Power to Tax," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521233293, October.
  12. Allan Meltzer & Scott Richard, 1983. "Tests of a rational theory of the size of government," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 41(3), pages 403-418, January.
  13. Anthony Downs, 1961. "Problems of Majority Voting: In Defense of Majority Voting," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 69, pages 192.
  14. Dennis Mueller & Peter Murrell, 1986. "Interest groups and the size of government," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 48(2), pages 125-145, January.
  15. Nelson, Michael A, 1987. "Searching for Leviathan: Comment and Extension," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(1), pages 198-204, March.
  16. Zax, Jeffrey S, 1989. "Is There a Leviathan in Your Neighborhood?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(3), pages 560-67, June.
  17. Martin, Dolores Tremewan & Wagner, Richard E, 1978. "The Institutional Framework for Municipal Incorporation: An Economic Analysis of Local Agency Formation Commissions in California," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(2), pages 409-25, October.
  18. Gordon Tullock, 1959. "Problems of Majority Voting," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 67, pages 571.
  19. Kevin L. Kliesen, 2003. "Big government the comeback kid?," The Regional Economist, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jan, pages 4-9.
  20. R. G. Holcombe & D. J. Lacombe, 1998. "Interests Versus Ideology in the Ratification of the 16th and 17th Amendments," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 10(2), pages 143-160, 07.
  21. James R. Hines & Richard H. Thaler, 1995. "The Flypaper Effect," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(4), pages 217-226, Fall.
  22. Baumol, William J, 1972. "Macroeconomics of Unbalanced Growth: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(1), pages 150, March.
  23. Weingast, Barry R & Shepsle, Kenneth A & Johnsen, Christopher, 1981. "The Political Economy of Benefits and Costs: A Neoclassical Approach to Distributive Politics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(4), pages 642-64, August.
  24. Meltzer, Allan H & Richard, Scott F, 1981. "A Rational Theory of the Size of Government," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 914-27, October.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Magazzino, Cosimo & Forte, Francesco, 2010. "Optimal size of government and economic growth in EU-27," MPRA Paper 26669, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Federico Guerrero & Elliott Parker, 2007. "The Effect of Federal Government Size on Long-Term Economic Growth in the United States, 1792-2004," Working Papers 07-002, University of Nevada, Reno, Department of Economics & University of Nevada, Reno , Department of Resource Economics.
  3. Albanese, Giuseppe & Modica, Salvatore, 2010. "Co-movement of public spending in the G7," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 109(2), pages 121-123, November.
  4. Roberta da Silva Vieira, 2009. "O Tamanho do Setor Público no Contexto do Federalismo: Um Modelo Aplicado aos Municípios Brasileiros," Discussion Papers 1415, Instituto de Pesquisa Econômica Aplicada - IPEA.

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