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The Size and Composition of Government Spending in Europe and Its Impact on Well-Being

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  • Zohal Hessami

Abstract

This paper empirically analyzes whether large governments in Europe reflect efficient responses to a changing social and economic environment ('welfare economic view') as opposed to wasteful spending ('public choice view'). To this end, the effect of government size on subjective well-being is estimated in a combined survey and country-level dataset covering 153,268 respondents from twelve EU countries over the 1990-2000 period. The first finding is an inversely U-shaped relationship between government size and well-being. In addition, the analysis suggests that given the high institutional quality as compared to other parts of the world there might be scope for a further enlargement of governments in the EU from a well-being perspective. However, one must acknowledge that the effect on well-being may be quite small and that democratic societies in Europe have no experience with even larger governments. The investigation also reveals that the impact of government size on well-being depends negatively on levels of corruption and positively on the extent of decentralization. Moreover, left-wing voters and low-income earners are the main beneficiaries of a large public sector. Finally, in all twelve EU countries included in the sample higher levels of well-being could have been achieved by allocating a higher share of public resources to education, while Finland and Germany could have given an additional boost to well-being by cutting expenditures on social protection. Copyright © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd..

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  • Zohal Hessami, 2010. "The Size and Composition of Government Spending in Europe and Its Impact on Well-Being," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 63(3), pages 346-382, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:kyklos:v:63:y:2010:i:3:p:346-382
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    Cited by:

    1. Luis Diaz‐Serrano & Andrés Rodríguez‐Pose, 2012. "Decentralization, Subjective Well‐Being, and the Perception of Institutions," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 65(2), pages 179-193, May.
    2. Alberto Montagnoli & Mirko Moro, 2014. "Everybody Hurts: Banking Crises and Individual Wellbeing," Working Papers 2014010, The University of Sheffield, Department of Economics.
    3. Sequeira, Tiago & Minas, Tiago & Ferreira-Lopes, Alexandra, 2014. "Do Large Governments Decrease Happiness?," MPRA Paper 54418, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Alpaslan Akay & Olivier Bargain & Mathias Dolls & Dirk Neumann & Andreas Peichl & Sebastian Siegloch, 2012. "Happy Taxpayers? Income Taxation and Well-Being," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 526, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    5. Seoyong Kim & Donggeun Kim, 2012. "Does Government Make People Happy?: Exploring New Research Directions for Government’s Roles in Happiness," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 13(5), pages 875-899, October.
    6. Christian Breuer & Horst Rottmann, 2014. "Do Labor Market Institutions Influence Suicide Mortality? An International Panel Data Analysis," CESifo Working Paper Series 4875, CESifo Group Munich.
    7. KASMAOUI, Kamal & BOURHABA, Othmane, 2017. "Happiness and Public Expenditure: Evidence from a panel analysis," MPRA Paper 79339, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Sujarwoto Sujarwoto & Gindo Tampubolon, 2015. "Decentralisation and Citizen Happiness: A Multilevel Analysis of Self-rated Happiness in Indonesia," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 16(2), pages 455-475, April.
    9. Bernd Hayo & Florian Neumeier, 2012. "Leaders’ Impact on Public Spending Priorities: The Case of the German Laender," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 65(4), pages 480-511, November.
    10. Rottmann, Horst, 2014. "Do unemployment benefits and employment protection influence suicide mortality? An international panel data analysis," Weidener Diskussionspapiere 42, University of Applied Sciences Amberg-Weiden (OTH).
    11. Eiji Yamamura, 2012. "The Effects of Information Asymmetry and Government Size on Happiness: A Case Study from Japan," The IUP Journal of Governance and Public Policy, IUP Publications, vol. 0(1), pages 7-20, March.
    12. Zohal Hessami, 2010. "The Size and Composition of Government Spending in Europe and Its Impact on Well-Being," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 63(3), pages 346-382, August.
    13. Hessami, Zohal, 2011. "Globalization's winners and losers--Evidence from life satisfaction data, 1975-2001," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 112(3), pages 250-253, September.
    14. Bodo Knoll & Hans Pitlik, 2016. "Who benefits from big government? A life satisfaction approach," Empirica, Springer;Austrian Institute for Economic Research;Austrian Economic Association, vol. 43(3), pages 533-557, August.
    15. repec:spr:jhappi:v:18:y:2017:i:6:d:10.1007_s10902-016-9797-y is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Sarah Brown & Alexandros Kontonikas & Alberto Montagnoli & Mirko Moro & Luisanna Onnis, 2018. "Austerity, Life Satisfaction and Expectations," Working Papers 2018001, The University of Sheffield, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H50 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - General
    • H40 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - General
    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being

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