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The Implications of Openness for WAGNER’S Law. An International Comparison of 20 Countries, 1971-2000


  • Sobhee, S. K.


  • Joysuree, V.


This paper revitalizes the Wagner’s law by integrating to its literature the increasingly essential role played by openness. It has been recently hypothesized that the growing size of the public sector in both developed and developing economies could be explained by the increasing degree of openness. We therefore believe that if this is so, then by simply testing the conventional wisdom whether public expenditure grows as output grows (the Wagner’s Law), and isolating the entire process of openness, may clearly lead to specification bias. Consequently, to improve on the robustness of econometric findings pertaining to this law, it is but necessary to control for openness. Thus, in this paper, we test the validity of the law, after controlling for openness, through a panel of 20 mixed economies over 30 years. Using alternative econometric scenarios, we conclude that Wagner’s law is not a myth and its validity is robustly supported as and when economies transit to become more open.

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  • Sobhee, S. K. & Joysuree, V., 2004. "The Implications of Openness for WAGNER’S Law. An International Comparison of 20 Countries, 1971-2000," Applied Econometrics and International Development, Euro-American Association of Economic Development, vol. 4(3).
  • Handle: RePEc:eaa:aeinde:v:4:y:2004:i:1_19

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hausman, Jerry A & Taylor, William E, 1981. "Panel Data and Unobservable Individual Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(6), pages 1377-1398, November.
    2. Ashworth, John, 1994. "Spurious in Mexico: A Comment on Wagner's Law," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 49(2), pages 282-286.
    3. Henrekson, Magnus, 1993. "Wagner's Law--A Spurious Relationship?," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 48(3), pages 406-415.
    4. Dani Rodrik, 1998. "Why Do More Open Economies Have Bigger Governments?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(5), pages 997-1032, October.
    5. Lin, Chi-Ang, 1995. "More Evidence on Wagner's Law for Mexico," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 50(2), pages 267-277.
    6. Murthy, N R Vasudeva, 1996. "More Evidence on Wagner's Law for Mexico: A Reply," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 51(1), pages 132-139.
    7. Hayo, Bernd, 1994. "No Further Evidence of Wagner's Law for Mexico," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 49(2), pages 287-294.
    8. Park, Wan Kyu, 1996. "Wagner's Law vs. Keynesian Paradigm: The Korean Experience," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 51(1), pages 71-91.
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    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H5 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies
    • F41 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Open Economy Macroeconomics


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