A logistic growth theory of public expenditures: A study of five countries over 100 years
This paper offers a new theory and empirical testing of long-term trends of public expenditures for five countries. While Wagner’s Law would imply an exponential growth process of the ratio between public expenditures and national income (G/Y), the law should be rejected both on theoretical and empirical grounds, because it disregards the role of ever increasing distortionary taxation. However, under some conditions, the combination of Wagner’s Law and the Pigou’s conjecture that the excess burden of taxation constrains the growth of public expenditures can be captured by a non-linear first order differential equation. The equation is the Verhulst’s logistic, originally invented to model Malthusian predictions on population growth. The integration of a Verhulst equation generates an S-shaped curve. This analytical framework combines intuitions from a welfare economics and a public choice perspective, and potentially offers a new research strategy on the dynamics of government expenditures. We offer preliminary econometric estimates on long run trends (around 1870–1990) of G/Y in U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Italy. These estimates confirm a pattern of similar trajectories, in spite of different national parameters, and suggest that the logistic view of growth of government is consistent with observed data. Copyright Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Oliver, F R, 1969. "Another Generalisation of the Logistic Growth Function," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 37(1), pages 144-47, January.
- Dani Rodrik, 1996.
"Why Do More Open Economies Have Bigger Governments?,"
NBER Working Papers
5537, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- 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.
- Rodrik, Dani, 1996. "Why do More Open Economies Have Bigger Governments?," CEPR Discussion Papers 1388, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Fölster, Stefan & Henrekson, Magnus, 1998.
"Growth Effects of Government Expenditure and Taxation in Rich Countries,"
Working Paper Series
503, Research Institute of Industrial Economics, revised 20 Jun 2000.
- Folster, Stefan & Henrekson, Magnus, 2001. "Growth effects of government expenditure and taxation in rich countries," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(8), pages 1501-1520, August.
- Fölster, Stefan & Henrekson, Magnus, 2000. "Growth Effects of Government Expenditure and Taxation in Rich Countries," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 391, Stockholm School of Economics.
- Ng, Yew-Kwang, 2000.
"The Optimal Size of Public Spending and the Distortionary Cost of Taxation,"
National Tax Journal,
National Tax Association, vol. 53(n. 2), pages 253-72, June.
- Yew-Kwang Ng, 2000. "The Optimal Size of Public Spending and the Distortionary Cost of Taxation," Monash Economics Working Papers archive-19, Monash University, Department of Economics.
- Tridimas, George, 2001. "The Economics and Politics of the Structure of Public Expenditure," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 106(3-4), pages 299-316, March.
- Feldstein, Martin, 1997. "How Big Should Government Be?," Scholarly Articles 3043427, Harvard University Department of Economics.
- Tanzi,Vito & Schuknecht,Ludger, 2000.
"Public Spending in the 20th Century,"
Cambridge University Press, number 9780521664103, june. pag.
- Alan T. Peacock & Jack Wiseman, 1961. "The Growth of Public Expenditure in the United Kingdom," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number peac61-1, June.
- Mueller,Dennis C., 2003. "Public Choice III," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521894753, june. pag.
- Feldstein, Martin, 1997. "How Big Should Government Be?," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 50(2), pages 197-213, June.
- James M. Buchanan & Richard A. Musgrave, 1999. "Public Finance and Public Choice: Two Contrasting Visions of the State," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262024624.
- Henrekson, Magnus, 1993. "Wagner's Law--A Spurious Relationship?," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 48(3), pages 406-15.
- Baumol, William J. & Batey Blackman, Sue Anne & Wolff, Edward N., 1984.
"Unbalanced Growth Revisited: Asymptotic Stagnancy and New Evidence,"
84-02, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
- Baumol, William J & Blackman, Sue Anne Batey & Wolff, Edward N, 1985. "Unbalanced Growth Revisited: Asymptotic Stagnancy and New Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(4), pages 806-17, September.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:122:y:2005:i:3:p:355-393. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sonal Shukla)or (Rebekah McClure)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.