IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Government Size And Growth: A Survey And Interpretation Of The Evidence

  • Andreas Bergh
  • Magnus Henrekson

The literature on the relationship between the size of government and economic growth is full of seemingly contradictory findings. This conflict is largely explained by variations in definitions and the countries studied. An alternative approach—of limiting the focus to studies of the relationship in rich countries, measuring government size as total taxes or total expenditure relative to GDP and relying on panel data estimations with variation over time—reveals a more consistent picture. The most recent studies find a significant negative correlation: An increase in government size by 10 percentage points is associated with a 0.5 to 1 percent lower annual growth rate. We discuss efforts to make sense of this correlation, and note several pitfalls involved in giving it a causal interpretation. Against this background, we discuss two explanations of why several countries with high taxes seem able to enjoy above average growth: (i) that countries with higher social trust levels are able to develop larger government sectors without harming the economy, and (ii) that countries with large governments compensate for high taxes and spending by implementing market-friendly policies in other areas. Both explanations are supported by current research.

(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/j.1467-6419.2011.00697.x
Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal Journal of Economic Surveys.

Volume (Year): 25 (2011)
Issue (Month): 5 (December)
Pages: 872-897

as
in new window

Handle: RePEc:bla:jecsur:v:25:y:2011:i:5:p:872-897
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/journal.asp?ref=0950-0804

Order Information: Web: http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/subs.asp?ref=0950-0804

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Andrea Asoni, 2008. "Protection Of Property Rights And Growth As Political Equilibria," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 22(5), pages 953-987, December.
  2. Blundell, Richard & Bond, Stephen, 1998. "Initial conditions and moment restrictions in dynamic panel data models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 87(1), pages 115-143, August.
  3. John W. Dawson, 2001. "Causality in the Freedom-Growth Relationship," Working Papers 01-04, Department of Economics, Appalachian State University.
  4. António Afonso & Davide Furceri, 2008. "Government Size, Composition, Volatility and Economic Growth," Working Papers Department of Economics 2008/04, ISEG - School of Economics and Management, Department of Economics, University of Lisbon.
  5. Sinn, Hans-Werner, 1997. "The selection principle and market failure in systems competition," Munich Reprints in Economics 19854, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  6. Ohlsson, H. & Agell, J. & Lindh, T., 1995. "Growth and the Public Sector: A Critical Review Essay," Papers 1995-09, Uppsala - Working Paper Series.
  7. Durevall, Dick & Henrekson, Magnus, 2010. "The Futile Quest for a Grand Explanation of Long-Run Government Expenditure," Working Paper Series 818, Research Institute of Industrial Economics, revised 28 Oct 2010.
  8. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521821759 is not listed on IDEAS
  9. Michael Marlow, 1986. "Private sector shrinkage and the growth of industrialized economies," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 49(2), pages 143-154, January.
  10. Dar, Atul A. & AmirKhalkhali, Sal, 2002. "Government size, factor accumulation, and economic growth: evidence from OECD countries," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 24(7-8), pages 679-692, November.
  11. King, R.G. & Rebelo, S., 1988. "Public Policy And Economic Growth: Developing Neoclassical Implications," RCER Working Papers 225, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  12. Alesina, Alberto & Wacziarg, Romain, 1998. "Openness, country size and government," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(3), pages 305-321, September.
  13. T. W. Swan, 1956. "ECONOMIC GROWTH and CAPITAL ACCUMULATION," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 32(2), pages 334-361, November.
  14. Sjoerd Beugelsdijk & Henri L.F. de Groot & Anton B.T.M. van Schaik, 2004. "Trust and economic growth: a robustness analysis," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 56(1), pages 118-134, January.
  15. Oguzhan Dincer & Eric Uslaner, 2007. "Trust and Growth," Working Papers 2007.73, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  16. Benno Torgler, 2003. "Tax Morale, Rule-Governed Behaviour and Trust," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 14(2), pages 119-140, June.
  17. Stephen T. Ziliak & Deirdre N. McCloskey, 2004. "Size Matters: The Standard Error of Regressions in the American Economic Review," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 1(2), pages 331-358, August.
  18. Dani Rodrik & Arvind Subramanian & Francesco Trebbi, 2002. "Institutions Rule: The Primacy of Institutions over Geography and Integration in Economic Development," NBER Working Papers 9305, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Pierre Cahuc & Andrei Shleifer & Philippe Aghion & Yann Algan, 2009. "Regulation and Distrust," Sciences Po publications 14648, Sciences Po.
  20. Widmalm, Frida, 2001. " Tax Structure and Growth: Are Some Taxes Better Than Others?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 107(3-4), pages 199-219, June.
  21. Rohini Pande & Christopher Udry, 2005. "Institutions and Development:A View from Below," Working Papers 928, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  22. Agell, Jonas, 1996. "Why Sweden's Welfare State Needed Reform," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(439), pages 1760-71, November.
  23. Nelson, Michael A & Singh, Ram D, 1998. "Democracy, Economic Freedom, Fiscal Policy, and Growth in LDCs: A Fresh Look," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 46(4), pages 677-96, July.
  24. Romer, Paul M, 1986. "Increasing Returns and Long-run Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(5), pages 1002-37, October.
  25. Agell, Jonas & Ohlsson, Henry & Thoursie, Peter Skogman, 2006. "Growth effects of government expenditure and taxation in rich countries: A comment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 211-218, January.
  26. Berggren, Niclas & Jordahl, Henrik, 2003. "Does Free Trade Really Reduce Growth? Further Testing Using the Economic Freedom Index," Working Paper Series 2003:26, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  27. Martin Feldstein, 2006. "The Effect of Taxes on Efficiency and Growth," NBER Working Papers 12201, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  28. Yamamura, Eiji, 2010. "Government size and trust," MPRA Paper 24985, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  29. Grier, Kevin B. & Tullock, Gordon, 1989. "An empirical analysis of cross-national economic growth, 1951-1980," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 259-276, September.
  30. Doucouliagos, Chris & Ulubasoglu, Mehmet Ali, 2006. "Economic freedom and economic growth: Does specification make a difference?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 60-81, March.
  31. James D. Gwartney & Randall G. Holcombe & Robert A. Lawson, 2004. "Economic Freedom, Institutional Quality,and Cross-Country Differences in Income and Growth," Cato Journal, Cato Journal, Cato Institute, vol. 24(3), pages 205-233, Fall.
  32. Jan-Egbert Sturm & Jakob De Haan, 2001. "How robust is the relationship between economic freedom and economic growth?," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 33(7), pages 839-844.
  33. David Roodman, 2009. "A Note on the Theme of Too Many Instruments," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 71(1), pages 135-158, 02.
  34. André Varella Mollick & René Cabral, 2011. "Government Size and Output Growth: the Effects of “Averaging out”," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(1), pages 122-137, 02.
  35. Robert J. Barro, 1988. "Government Spending in a Simple Model of Endogenous Growth," NBER Working Papers 2588, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  36. Folster, Stefan & Henrekson, Magnus, 2001. "Growth effects of government expenditure and taxation in rich countries," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(8), pages 1501-1520, August.
  37. C. Colombier, 2009. "Growth effects of fiscal policies: an application of robust modified M-estimator," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 41(7), pages 899-912.
  38. Romero-Ávila, Diego & Strauch, Rolf, 2008. "Public finances and long-term growth in Europe: Evidence from a panel data analysis," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 172-191, March.
  39. Bergh, Andreas & Karlsson, Martin, 2009. "Government Size and Growth: Accounting for Economic Freedom and Globalization," Ratio Working Papers 130, The Ratio Institute.
  40. Levine, Ross & Renelt, David, 1991. "A sensitivity analysis of cross-country growth regressions," Policy Research Working Paper Series 609, The World Bank.
  41. Arellano, Manuel & Bond, Stephen, 1991. "Some Tests of Specification for Panel Data: Monte Carlo Evidence and an Application to Employment Equations," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(2), pages 277-97, April.
  42. Abdiweli Ali, 2003. "Institutional differences as sources of growth differences," Atlantic Economic Journal, International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 31(4), pages 348-362, December.
  43. Swan, Trevor W, 2002. "Economic Growth," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 78(243), pages 375-80, December.
  44. Stephen Knack & Philip Keefer, 1995. "Institutions And Economic Performance: Cross-Country Tests Using Alternative Institutional Measures," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 7(3), pages 207-227, November.
  45. Xavier X. Sala-i-Martin, 1997. "I Just Ran Four Million Regressions," NBER Working Papers 6252, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  46. Freeman, Richard B, 1995. "The Large Welfare State as a System," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(2), pages 16-21, May.
  47. Bergh, Andreas & Bjørnskov, Christian, 2009. "Historical Trust Levels Predict Current Welfare State Design," Ratio Working Papers 144, The Ratio Institute.
  48. Peter Gordon & Lanlan Wang, 2004. "Does Economic Performance Correlate with Big Government?," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 1(2), pages 192-221, August.
  49. Ziliak, Stephen T. & McCloskey, Deirdre N., 2004. "Size matters: the standard error of regressions in the American Economic Review," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 33(5), pages 527-546, November.
  50. Andreas Bergh & Christian Bjørnskov, 2011. "Historical Trust Levels Predict the Current Size of the Welfare State," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(1), pages 1-19, 02.
  51. Kneller, Richard & Bleaney, Michael F. & Gemmell, Norman, 1999. "Fiscal policy and growth: evidence from OECD countries," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(2), pages 171-190, November.
  52. Hansson, Par & Henrekson, Magnus, 1994. " A New Framework for Testing the Effect of Government Spending on Growth and Productivity," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 81(3-4), pages 381-401, December.
  53. Dani Rodrik, 2007. "Introductiion to One Economics, Many Recipes: Globalization, Institutions, and Economic Growth
    [One Economics, Many Recipes: Globalization, Institutions, and Economic Growth]
    ," Introductory Chapters, Princeton University Press.
  54. Gernot Doppelhofer & Ronald I. Miller & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 2000. "Determinants of Long-Term Growth: A Bayesian Averaging of Classical Estimates (BACE) Approach," NBER Working Papers 7750, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  55. Haan, Jakob de & Sturm, Jan-Egbert, 1999. "On the relationship between economic freedom and economic growth," CCSO Working Papers 199903, University of Groningen, CCSO Centre for Economic Research.
  56. M Arellano & O Bover, 1990. "Another Look at the Instrumental Variable Estimation of Error-Components Models," CEP Discussion Papers dp0007, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  57. Andrea Bassanini & Stefano Scarpetta & Philip Hemmings, 2001. "Economic Growth: The Role of Policies and Institutions: Panel Data. Evidence from OECD Countries," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 283, OECD Publishing.
  58. Deirdre N. McCloskey & Stephen T. Ziliak, 1996. "The Standard Error of Regressions," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(1), pages 97-114, March.
  59. Folster, Stefan & Henrekson, Magnus, 2006. "Growth effects of government expenditure and taxation in rich countries: A reply," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 219-221, January.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is featured on the following reading lists or Wikipedia pages:

  1. Indices of economic freedom in Wikipedia English ne '')

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bla:jecsur:v:25:y:2011:i:5:p:872-897. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Wiley-Blackwell Digital Licensing)

or (Christopher F. Baum)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.