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Why do More Open Economies Have Bigger Governments?

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  • Rodrik, Dani

Abstract

This paper demonstrates that there is a robust empirical association between the extent to which an economy is exposed to trade and the size of its government sector. This association holds for a large cross-section of countries, in low- as well as high-income samples, and is robust to the inclusion of a wide range of controls. The explanation appears to be that government consumption plays a risk-reducing role in economies exposed to a significant amount of external risk. When openness is interacted with explicit measures of external risk, such as terms-of-trade uncertainty and product concentration of exports, it is the interaction terms that enter significantly, and the openness term that loses significance (or turns negative). The paper also demonstrates that government consumption is the ‘safe’ activity, in the empirically relevant sense, in the vast majority of countries.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 1388.

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Date of creation: May 1996
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:1388

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Keywords: Fiscal Policy; Government; Openness;

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  1. Joel Slemrod, 1995. "Involvement, Prosperity, and Economic Growth?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 26(2), pages 373-431.
  2. Jeffrey A. Frankel & David Romer, 1996. "Trade and Growth: An Empirical Investigation," NBER Working Papers 5476, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Bates, Robert H. & Brock, Philip & Tiefenthaler, Jill, 1991. "Risk and trade regimes: another exploration," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 45(01), pages 1-18, December.
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  1. > Political Economy
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