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Size Of Government And Economic Growth: A Nonlinear Analysis


  • Shanaka Herath


The new growth theory establishes, among other things, that government expenditure can manipulate the economic growth of a country. This study attempts to explain whether government expenditure increases or decreases economic growth in the context of Sri Lanka. Results obtained employing a productive output series and applying an analytical framework based on second degree polynomial regression are generally consistent with previous findings: government expenditure and economic growth are positively correlated; excessive government expenditure is negatively correlated with economic growth; and investment promotes growth. In a separate section, the article examines Armey’s idea of a quadratic curve that explains the level of government expenditure in an economy and the corresponding level of economic growth [Armey, D. (1995). The Freedom Revolution. Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing Co.]. The findings confirm the possibility of constructing the Armey curve for Sri Lanka, and it estimates the optimal level of government expenditure to be approximately 27%. This article adds to the literature indicating that the Armey curve is a reality not only for developed economies, but also for developing economies.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:beo:journl:v:57:y:2012:i:194:p:7-30

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    2. Taner Turan, 2014. "Optimal Size of Government in Turkey," International Journal of Economics and Financial Issues, Econjournals, vol. 4(2), pages 286-294.
    3. Petr Zimčík, 2016. "Velikost veřejného sektoru a ekonomický růst
      [The Scope of Government and Economic Growth]
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    4. Andrew Phiri, 2017. "Nonlinearities in Wagner's law: further evidence from South Africa," International Journal of Sustainable Economy, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 9(3), pages 231-249.
    5. Pelin Varol Iyidogan & Taner Turan, 2017. "Government Size and Economic Growth in Turkey: A Threshold Regression Analysis," Prague Economic Papers, University of Economics, Prague, vol. 2017(2), pages 142-154.
    6. Alimi, R. Santos, 2014. "Does Optimal Government Size Exist for Developing Economies? The Case of Nigeria," MPRA Paper 56073, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Ozturk, Ayse, 2016. "Examining the economic growth and the middle-income trap from the perspective of the middle class," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 726-738.
    8. Helder Ferreira de Mendon ça & Thiago Cacicedo, 2015. "Size of government and economic growth in the largest Latin American country," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 22(11), pages 904-910, July.

    More about this item


    government expenditure; economic growth; Sri Lanka; polynomial regression; Armey curve;

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • F43 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Economic Growth of Open Economies
    • H10 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - General


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