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Does Government Expenditure Crowd Out Private Consumption in Italy? Evidence from a Microeconomic Model


  • Rosella Levaggi


An abnormal expansion of the public sector may create serious problems to the market economy, as the literature suggests. This issue is quite important in countries such as Italy where the size of the public sector and of its debt are quite relevant. In this paper a model, in the microeconomic tradition, is developed and applied to the italian economy using a quite general utility function to represent consumer's behaviour. The aim of the article is to set up a methological framework in which to test for the hypothesis that the provision of public and impure public goods crowds out private consumption. The main result of the analysis is that, in Italy, traditional public goods play a neutral role in expenditure decisions while impure public goods crowd out private consumption. This crowding out is created by over-production of these services; merit goods are direct complements to a wide range of private goods, but this beneficial effect is more than offset by the negative income effect related to their financing.

Suggested Citation

  • Rosella Levaggi, 1999. "Does Government Expenditure Crowd Out Private Consumption in Italy? Evidence from a Microeconomic Model," International Review of Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 13(2), pages 241-251.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:irapec:v:13:y:1999:i:2:p:241-251
    DOI: 10.1080/026921799101689

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Blundell, Richard, 1988. "Consumer Behaviour: Theory and Empirical Evidence--a Survey," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 98(389), pages 16-65, March.
    2. Bergstrom, Theodore & Blume, Lawrence & Varian, Hal, 1986. "On the private provision of public goods," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 25-49, February.
    3. Neary, J. P. & Roberts, K. W. S., 1980. "The theory of household behaviour under rationing," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 25-42, January.
    4. Tridimas, George, 1992. "A Note on the Effects of Government Expenditures on Private Consumption," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 47(1), pages 153-161.
    5. Brennan, Geoffrey & Pincus, Jonathan J, 1983. "Government Expenditure Growth and Resource Allocation: The Nebulous Connection," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 35(3), pages 351-365, November.
    6. Cornes, Richard & Sandler, Todd, 1994. "The comparative static properties of the impure public good model," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(3), pages 403-421, July.
    7. Cerea, Gianfranco, 1982. "Public Expenditure and Decisions on Private Consumption," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 37(3), pages 350-360.
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    Cited by:

    1. David Aristei & Luca Pieroni, 2005. "Estimating the Role of Government Expenditure in Long-run Consumption," Quaderni del Dipartimento di Economia, Finanza e Statistica 13/2005, Università di Perugia, Dipartimento Economia.
    2. Luca Pieroni, 2007. "How Strong is the Relationship between Defence Expenditure and Private Consumption? Evidence from the United States," Working Papers 0705, Department of Accounting, Economics and Finance, Bristol Business School, University of the West of England, Bristol.

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