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The optimal size of government in Australia

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  • Makin, Anthony J.
  • Pearce, Julian
  • Ratnasiri, Shyama

Abstract

In the extensive literature on the role of government in the economy scant attention has been paid to the influence of the relative size of government on an economy’s rate of growth. This paper canvasses perspectives on why the size of government has grown, how this affects the wider economy, and why a trade-off exists between increased government size and economic growth beyond some optimal level, as conveyed by the so-called BARS curve. The paper next examines in-depth trends in government spending in Australia which has grown to a historically high level of 37 per cent of national income post GFC before econometrically estimating the optimal size of government on Australia’s BARS curve using the ARMAX approach. The results suggest the share of government spending in Australia consistent with maximising economic growth is 31 per cent of national income, significantly below the current level.

Suggested Citation

  • Makin, Anthony J. & Pearce, Julian & Ratnasiri, Shyama, 2019. "The optimal size of government in Australia," Economic Analysis and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 27-36.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecanpo:v:62:y:2019:i:c:p:27-36
    DOI: 10.1016/j.eap.2018.12.001
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H6 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy

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