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Social benefit expenditures and stagflation: evidence from the United States

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  • J. F. Li
  • Z. X. Lin

Abstract

Stagflation refers to the terrible economic malaise associated with declining growth, hyperinflation and high unemployment. Unlike previous cost-push explanations such as an overheated labour market and oil prices, this article suggests that social benefit expenditures are a potential cause of stagflation. We investigate the impact of social benefit expenditures on stagflation in the U.S. over the 1950–2014 period by employing an autoregressive distributed lag (ARDL) bounds testing approach to cointegration, which was developed by Pesaran, Shin, and Smith. The influence of social benefit expenditures on economic growth and inflation and unemployment rates is estimated. The empirical results from the U.S. suggest that economic growth responds negatively to social benefit expenditures, while inflation and unemployment rates are both positively associated with social benefit expenditures. Thus, government-led rigid welfare could contribute to stagflation in the U.S. Instead of increasing people’s happiness, the over-burdened welfare system could push people into economic malaise. This stagflation risk shouldn’t be ignored. These results are important for U.S. policymakers and can inform other governments characterized by high levels of well-being.

Suggested Citation

  • J. F. Li & Z. X. Lin, 2016. "Social benefit expenditures and stagflation: evidence from the United States," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 48(55), pages 5340-5347, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:applec:v:48:y:2016:i:55:p:5340-5347
    DOI: 10.1080/00036846.2016.1176118
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