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Federal, State, and Local Governments:Evaluating their Separate Roles in US Growth

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  • Matthew J. Higgins

    ()
    (College of Management, Georgia Institute of Technology)

  • Andrew T. Young

    (Department of Economics, University of Mississippi)

  • Daniel Levy

    ()
    (Department of Economics, Bar-Ilan University, Rimini Center for Economic Analysis)

Abstract

We use US county level data (3,058 observations) from 1970 to 1998 to explore the relationship between economic growth and the extent of government employment at three levels: federal, state and local. We find that increases in federal, state and local government employments are all negatively associated with economic growth. We find no evidence that government is more efficient at more decentralized levels. While we cannot separate out the productive and redistributive services of government, we document that the county-level income distribution became slightly wider from 1970 to 1998. For those who justify government activities in terms of equity concerns – perhaps even trading off economic growth for equity – the burden falls on them to show that the income distribution would have widened more in the absence of government activities. We conclude that a release of government-employed labor inputs to the private sector would be growth-enhancing.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics, Bar-Ilan University in its series Working Papers with number 2008-02.

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Date of creation: Dec 2008
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Handle: RePEc:biu:wpaper:2008-02

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Keywords: Economic Growth; Federal Government; State Government; Local Government; and County-Level Data;

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  1. Josep Lluís Carrion-i-Silvestre & Marta Espasa & Toni Mora, 2008. "Fiscal Decentralization and Economic Growth in Spain," Public Finance Review, , vol. 36(2), pages 194-218, March.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Shanaka Herath, 2009. "The Size of the Government and Economic Growth: An Empirical Study of Sri Lanka," SRE-Disc sre-disc-2009_08, Institute for the Environment and Regional Development, Department of Socioeconomics, Vienna University of Economics and Business.
  2. Matthew J. Higgins & Daniel Levy & Andrew T. Young, 2006. "Heterogeneous Convergence," Emory Economics 0615, Department of Economics, Emory University (Atlanta).
  3. Shanaka Herath, 2012. "Size Of Government And Economic Growth: A Nonlinear Analysis," Economic Annals, Faculty of Economics, University of Belgrade, vol. 57(194), pages 7-30, July - Se.
  4. Jamie Bologna & Donald J. Lacombe & Andrew T. Young, 2014. "A Spatial Analysis of Incomes and Institutional Quality : Evidence from US Metropolitan Areas," Working Papers 14-11, Department of Economics, West Virginia University.

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