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Growth of government and the politics of fiscal policy

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  • Ghate, Chetan
  • Zak, Paul J.

Abstract

U.S. government expenditures increased rapidly during the post-war period, then slowed in the 1980s and began falling in 1992. To examine the dynamics of the growth and subsequent reduction in government spending, we present a dynamic general equilibrium model in which politicians choose government spending to maximize support by their constituents. The model predicts that government expenditures will initially mimic Wagner's law - the tendency for government spending to increase with GDP - but eventually diverge from output due to the growth of the welfare state. After government expenditures become large, we identify an endogenous threshold on the economy's growth path where it is optimal for politicians to shrink the welfare sate, cut taxes, and stimulate output growth. We show that the policies chosen by politicians are Pareto suboptimal and cause endogenous cycles in output. Such cycles are of several types, and we characterize when the equilibrium growth path will result in a reduction in the size of the welfare state, as well as when the welfare state cycles between small and large.
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Suggested Citation

  • Ghate, Chetan & Zak, Paul J., 2002. "Growth of government and the politics of fiscal policy," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 13(4), pages 435-455, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:streco:v:13:y:2002:i:4:p:435-455
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    Cited by:

    1. Durevall, Dick & Henrekson, Magnus, 2011. "The futile quest for a grand explanation of long-run government expenditure," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7-8), pages 708-722, August.
    2. Paul J. Zak, 2002. "Institutions, Property Rights, and Growth," Recherches économiques de Louvain, De Boeck Université, vol. 68(1), pages 55-73.
    3. Fic, Tatiana & Ghate, Chetan, 2005. "The welfare state, thresholds, and economic growth," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 571-598, May.
    4. Knack, Stephen & Zak, Paul J., 2001. "Building trust: public policy, interpersonal trust and economic development," MPRA Paper 25055, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Michael E. S. Hoffman, 2005. "Political and Public Finance Motives for Tariffs," International Trade 0510016, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Sanz, Ismael & Velazquez, Francisco J, 2003. "What do OECD countries cut first at a time of fiscal adjustments? A dynamic panel data approach," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt4j744960, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
    7. repec:eee:jpolmo:v:39:y:2017:i:6:p:1117-1140 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Blerta Zilja & Manjola Naco, 2013. "The Performance of Public Investments During Fiscal Consolidation in Albania," Romanian Economic Journal, Department of International Business and Economics from the Academy of Economic Studies Bucharest, vol. 16(48), pages 241-258, June.
    9. Cavicchioli, Maddalena & Pistoresi, Barbara, 2016. "Testing threshold cointegration in Wagner's Law: The role of military spending," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 23-31.
    10. Ghate Chetan, 2003. "The Politics of Endogenous Growth," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 3(1), pages 1-18, August.
    11. Barbara Pistoresi & Alberto Rinaldi & Francesco Salsano, 2015. "Government expenditure and economic development: evidence from Italy 1862-2009," Department of Economics 0065, University of Modena and Reggio E., Faculty of Economics "Marco Biagi".
    12. Dalia Grigonyté, 2003. "Impact of Currency Boards on Fiscal Policy in Central and Eastern European Countries," Economic Change and Restructuring, Springer, vol. 36(2), pages 111-133, June.
    13. Maddalena Cavicchioli & Barbara Pistoresi, 2016. "Testing threshold cointegration in Wagner's Law: the role of military spending," Department of Economics 0078, University of Modena and Reggio E., Faculty of Economics "Marco Biagi".
    14. Karl Farmer, 2006. "Reducing Public Debt under Dynamic Efficiency: Transitional Dynamics in Diamond's OLG Model," Atlantic Economic Journal, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 34(2), pages 195-208, June.
    15. repec:ulp:buopee:v:36:y:2017:m:06:i:4 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. FIC Tatiana & GHATE Chetan, "undated". "Economic Growth and the Welfare State: A Model of Breaks and Starts," EcoMod2003 330700054, EcoMod.
    17. Maddalena Cavicchioli & Barbara Pistoresi, 2016. "Testing threshold cointegration in Wagner's Law: the role of military spending," Center for Economic Research (RECent) 116, University of Modena and Reggio E., Dept. of Economics "Marco Biagi".

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General

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