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Women Prefer Larger Governments: Growth, Structural Transformation, And Government Size

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  • TIAGO V. DE V. CAVALCANTI
  • JOSÉ TAVARES

Abstract

The increase in income per capita is accompanied, in virtually all countries, by two changes in the structure of the economy, namely an increase in the share of government spending in GDP and an increase in female labour force participation. This paper suggests that these two changes are causally related. We develop a growth model where the structure of the economy is endogenous so that participation in market activities and government size are causally related. Economic growth and rising incomes are accompanied by a greater incentive for women to engage in labour market activities as the opportunity cost of staying at home increases. We hypothesize that government spending decreases the cost of performing household chores such as, but not limited to, child rearing and child care so that couples decide to engage further in the labour market and chose a higher tax rate to finance more government spending. Using a wide cross-section of data for developed and developing countries, we show that higher participation by women in the labour market are indeed positively associated with larger governments. Furthermore, we investigate the causal link between the two variables using as instrumental variables a unique and novel dataset on the relative price of home appliances across OECD countries and over time. We find strong evidence of a causal link between participation in the labour market and government size: a 10 percent rise in participation in the labour market leads to a 7 to 8 percent rise in government size. This effect is robust to the country sample, time period, and a set of controls in the spirit of Rodrik (1998). The inclusion of an endogenous choice of government spending allows a considerable extension of the model in Galor and Weil (2000) so fertility can either rise or fall and phenomena like the baby boom and baby bust in Greenwood at el. (2002) can be addressed. In addition, the paper has important implications for the analysis of the secular as well as c
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Suggested Citation

  • Tiago V. De V. Cavalcanti & José Tavares, 2011. "Women Prefer Larger Governments: Growth, Structural Transformation, And Government Size," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 49(1), pages 155-171, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:ecinqu:v:49:y:2011:i:1:p:155-171
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Tanzi,Vito & Schuknecht,Ludger, 2000. "Public Spending in the 20th Century," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521662918, March.
    2. Fernández, Raquel & Fogli, Alessandra & Olivetti, Claudia, 2002. "Marrying Your Mom: Preference Transmission and Women's Labour and Education Choices," CEPR Discussion Papers 3592, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Galor, Oded & Weil, David N, 1996. "The Gender Gap, Fertility, and Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 374-387, June.
    4. Greenwood, Jeremy & Seshadri, Ananth, 2005. "Technological Progress and Economic Transformation," Handbook of Economic Growth,in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 19, pages 1225-1273 Elsevier.
    5. Jeremy Greenwood & Ananth Seshadri & Mehmet Yorukoglu, 2005. "Engines of Liberation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 72(1), pages 109-133.
    6. Sherwin Rosen, 1996. "Public Employment and the Welfare State in Sweden," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(2), pages 729-740, June.
    7. Jeremy Greenwood & Ananth Seshadri & Guillaume Vandenbroucke, 2002. "The baby boom and baby bust: some macroeconomics for population economics," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Nov.
    8. Jonah B. Gelbach, 2002. "Public Schooling for Young Children and Maternal Labor Supply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 307-322, March.
    9. Florence Jaumotte, 2003. "Female Labour Force Participation: Past Trends and Main Determinants in OECD Countries," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 376, OECD Publishing.
    10. Jeremy Greenwood & Ananth Seshadri & Guillaume Vandenbroucke, 2005. "The Baby Boom and Baby Bust," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 183-207.
    11. Doris Weichselbaumer & Rudolf Winter-Ebmer, 2005. "A Meta-Analysis of the International Gender Wage Gap," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 19(3), pages 479-511, July.
    12. Goldin, Claudia, 1992. "Understanding the Gender Gap: An Economic History of American Women," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195072709.
    13. Iván Fernández Val, 2003. "Household labor supply: evidence for Spain," Investigaciones Economicas, Fundación SEPI, vol. 27(2), pages 239-275, May.
    14. David N. Weil & Oded Galor, 2000. "Population, Technology, and Growth: From Malthusian Stagnation to the Demographic Transition and Beyond," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 806-828, September.
    15. Husted, Thomas A & Kenny, Lawrence W, 1997. "The Effect of the Expansion of the Voting Franchise on the Size of Government," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(1), pages 54-82, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bertocchi, Graziella, 2011. "The enfranchisement of women and the welfare state," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 55(4), pages 535-553, May.
    2. repec:aic:revebs:y:2017:j:19:doganb is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Ferreira, Fernando & Gyourko, Joseph, 2014. "Does gender matter for political leadership? The case of U.S. mayors," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 112(C), pages 24-39.
    4. Pierre-Richard Agénor & Madina Agénor, 2014. "Infrastructure, women’s time allocation, and economic development," Journal of Economics, Springer, pages 1-30.
    5. García-Peñalosa, Cecilia & Konte, Maty, 2014. "Why Are Women Less Democratic Than Men? Evidence from Sub-Saharan African Countries," World Development, Elsevier, pages 104-119.
    6. Magali Recoules, 2011. "How can gender discrimination explain fertility behaviors and family-friendly policies?," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 9(4), pages 505-521, December.
    7. Agénor, Pierre-Richard & Canuto, Otaviano & da Silva, Luiz Pereira, 2014. "On gender and growth: The role of intergenerational health externalities and women's occupational constraints," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 132-147.
    8. Tiago Cavalcanti & José Tavares, 2016. "The Output Cost of Gender Discrimination: A Model‐based Macroeconomics Estimate," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 126(590), pages 109-134, February.
    9. Jeremy Greenwood & Nezih Guner & Guillaume Vandenbroucke, 2015. "Family Economics Writ Large," Economie d'Avant Garde Research Reports 26, Economie d'Avant Garde.
    10. Joanna Alexopoulos & Tiago V. Cavalcanti, 2010. "Cheap home goods and persistent inequality," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 45(3), pages 417-451, December.
    11. James Rockey, 2009. "Who is left-wing, and who just thinks they are?," Discussion Papers in Economics 09/23, Department of Economics, University of Leicester.
    12. Dalibor Eterovic & Toke Aidt, 2010. "Political Competition, Electoral Participation and Public Finance in 20th Century Latin America," Working Papers wp_001, Adolfo Ibáñez University, School of Government.
    13. Toke Aidt & Bianca Dallal, 2008. "Female voting power: the contribution of women’s suffrage to the growth of social spending in Western Europe (1869–1960)," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 134(3), pages 391-417, March.
    14. repec:aea:jeclit:v:55:y:2017:i:4:p:1346-1434 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Kodila-Tedika, Oasis, 2013. "Femmes au pouvoir et Pouvoir des femmes : Qu’est-ce qui se passe en Afrique ?
      [Women in power and power of women: What is happening in Africa?]
      ," MPRA Paper 48776, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    16. Casas-Arce, Pablo & Saiz, Albert, 2011. "Women and Power: Unwilling, Ineffective, or Held Back?," IZA Discussion Papers 5645, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development

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