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Public Debt and Economic Growth in Italy

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  • Fabrizio Balassone

    ()
    (Bank of Italy)

  • Maura Francese

    ()
    (Bank of Italy)

  • Angelo Pace

    ()
    (Bank of Italy)

Abstract

In this paper we investigate the link between government debt-to-GDP ratio and real per capita income growth in Italy over 1861-2009. We model our regression analysis on a standard production function. Our results support the hypotheses of a negative relation between public debt and growth and of a stronger effect of foreign debt compared to domestic debt before World War I. The effect of public debt on growth appears to work mainly through reduced investment. These results help explain the different reaction of per capita GDP growth to the debt-ratio over 1880-1914 (when the negative correlation between the two variables is particularly strong) and 1985-2007 (when the correlation appears to break down when debt starts declining). A descriptive analysis of fiscal policy in these two periods suggests that differences in the timing of fiscal consolidation as well as in the size and composition of the budget are additional explanatory factors.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area in its series Quaderni di storia economica (Economic History Working Papers) with number 11.

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Date of creation: Oct 2011
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Handle: RePEc:bdi:workqs:qse_11

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Keywords: public debt; economic growth; Italian economic history;

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References

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  1. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
  2. Checherita-Westphal, Cristina & Rother, Philipp, 2010. "The impact of high and growing government debt on economic growth: an empirical investigation for the euro area," Working Paper Series 1237, European Central Bank.
  3. Bhaskara Rao, 2005. "Estimating Short and Long Run Relationships: A Guide to the Applied Economist," Econometrics 0508013, EconWPA.
  4. Paul R. Krugman, 1989. "Financing vs. Forgiving a Debt Overhang," NBER Working Papers 2486, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Christophe Kamps, 2005. "The Dynamic Effects of Public Capital: VAR Evidence for 22 OECD Countries," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 12(4), pages 533-558, August.
  6. Mankiw, N Gregory & Romer, David & Weil, David N, 1992. "A Contribution to the Empirics of Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(2), pages 407-37, May.
  7. Bottazzi, Laura & Peri, Giovanni, 2004. "The Dynamics of R&D and Innovation in the Short-Run and in the Long-Run," CEPR Discussion Papers 4479, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Raffaello Bronzini & Paolo Piselli, 2006. "Determinants of long-run regional productivity: the role of R&D, human capital and public infrastructure," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 597, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  9. Maura Francese & Angelo Pace, 2008. "Italian Public debt since national unification. A reconstruction of the time series," Questioni di Economia e Finanza (Occasional Papers) 31, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Dreger, Christian & Reimers, Hans-Eggert, 2012. "Does euro area membership affect the relation between GDP growth and public debt?," Discussion Papers 327, European University Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder), Department of Business Administration and Economics.
  2. Magazzino, Cosimo, 2012. "Wagner versus Keynes: Public spending and national income in Italy," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 34(6), pages 890-905.
  3. Markus Eberhardt, 2013. "Nonlinearities in the Relationship between Debt and Growth: Evidence from Co-Summability Testing," Discussion Papers 2013/06, University of Nottingham, Centre for Finance, Credit and Macroeconomics (CFCM).
  4. Michele Fratianni & Antonio Maria Rinaldi & Paolo Savona, 2013. "Una proposta per ridurre il fardello del debito pubblico italiano," Mo.Fi.R. Working Papers 81, Money and Finance Research group (Mo.Fi.R.) - Univ. Politecnica Marche - Dept. Economic and Social Sciences.
  5. Mario Sarcinelli, 2012. "Euro crisis or public debt crisis? With a remedy for the latter case," PSL Quarterly Review, Economia civile, vol. 65(262), pages 215-236.
  6. Arusha Cooray & Antonio Paradiso, 2012. "The level and growth effects in empirical growth models for the Nordic countries: A knowledge economy approach," CAMA Working Papers 2012-36, Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
  7. Silvana Bartoletto & Bruno Chiarini & Elisabetta Marzano, 2013. "Is the Italian Public Debt Really Unsustainable? An Historical Comparison (1861-2010)," CESifo Working Paper Series 4185, CESifo Group Munich.
  8. Emanuele Felice & Giovanni Vecchi, 2012. "Italy’s Modern Economic Growth, 1861-2011," Department of Economics University of Siena 663, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
  9. Silvana Bartoletto & Bruno Chiarini & Elisabetta Marzano, 2012. "The Sustainability of Fiscal Policy in Italy: A Long-Term Perspective," CESifo Working Paper Series 3812, CESifo Group Munich.

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