The composition of public expenditure and economic growth
Noting that the literature has focused on the link between the level of public expenditure and growth, we derive conditions under which a change in the composition of expenditure leads to a higher steady-state growth rate of the economy. The conditions depend not just on the physical productivity of the different components of public expenditure but also on the initial shares. Using data from 43 developing countries over 20 years we show that an increase in the share of current expenditure has positive and statistically significant growth effects. By contrast, the relationship between the capital component of public expenditure and per-capita growth is negative. Thus, seemingly productive expenditures, when used in excess, could become unproductive. These results imply that developing-country governments have been misallocating public expenditures in favor of capital expenditures at the expense of current expenditures.
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