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Are bigger governments better providers of public goods? Evidence from air pollution

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  • Thomas Bernauer
  • Vally Koubi

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Abstract

Theories explaining government size and its consequences are of two varieties. The first portrays government as a provider of public goods and a corrector of externalities. The second associates larger governments with bureaucratic inefficiency and special-interest-group influence. What distinguishes these alternatives is that only in the former is governmental expansion generally associated with an increase in social welfare. In the latter, the link between government size and public goods provision (or social welfare) is negative. We study the empirical significance of these competing claims by examining the relationship between government size and a particular public good, namely environmental quality (notably, air quality measured by SO 2 concentrations), for 42 countries over the period 1971–1996. We find that the relationship is negative, even after accounting for the quality of government (quality of bureaucracy and the level of corruption). This result may not prove conclusively that the growth of government has been driven by factors other than concern for the public good, but it creates a presumption against the theory of government size that emphasizes public good provision. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2013

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas Bernauer & Vally Koubi, 2013. "Are bigger governments better providers of public goods? Evidence from air pollution," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 156(3), pages 593-609, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:156:y:2013:i:3:p:593-609
    DOI: 10.1007/s11127-012-9916-1
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Halkos, George & Paizanos, Epameinondas, 2015. "Environmental Macroeconomics: A critical literature review and future empirical research directions," MPRA Paper 67432, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Danny García Callejas, 2015. "Voting for the environment: the importance of Democracy and education in Latin America," Revista de Economía del Caribe 014782, Universidad del Norte.
    3. George Halkos & Aksel Sundström & Nickolaos Tzeremes, 2015. "Regional environmental performance and governance quality: a nonparametric analysis," Environmental Economics and Policy Studies, Springer;Society for Environmental Economics and Policy Studies - SEEPS, vol. 17(4), pages 621-644, October.
    4. repec:ijb:journl:v:16:y:2017:i:1:p:49-74 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Fredriksson, Per G. & Neumayer, Eric, 2013. "Democracy and climate change policies: Is history important?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 11-19.
    6. repec:bla:kyklos:v:71:y:2018:i:4:p:613-641 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Halkos, George E. & Paizanos, Epameinondas Α., 2016. "The effects of fiscal policy on CO2 emissions: Evidence from the U.S.A," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 317-328.
    8. Adewuyi, Adeolu O., 2016. "Effects of public and private expenditures on environmental pollution: A dynamic heterogeneous panel data analysis," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 65(C), pages 489-506.
    9. repec:kap:copoec:v:29:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s10602-017-9246-x is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Lu, Hongyou & Xu, Wenli & Xu, Kun, 2016. "How to Make The Fiscal policies Greener in China?——Based on The Perspective of Environmental Macroeconomics," MPRA Paper 70221, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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