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Ideology and the Growth of Government


  • Andrew Pickering

    (University of Bristol)

  • James Rockey

    (University of Leicester)


We analyze the impact of ideology on the size of government. In a simple model, the government sets redistribution and provision of public services according to the preferences of the median voter. Ideology is defined in terms of preferences for public services, and the impact of ideology on the size of government is shown to increase with mean income. This idea is tested using measures of ideology based on party manifestos. We show that the interaction of ideology and mean income has a major role in explaining the increase and divergence in government size observed across OECD countries. © 2011 The President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrew Pickering & James Rockey, 2011. "Ideology and the Growth of Government," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(3), pages 907-919, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:93:y:2011:i:3:p:907-919

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Torsten Persson & Gerard Roland & Guido Tabellini, 2000. "Comparative Politics and Public Finance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(6), pages 1121-1161, December.
    2. Baumol, William J, 1972. "Macroeconomics of Unbalanced Growth: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(1), pages 150-150, March.
    3. Nicola Persico & Alessandro Lizzeri, 2001. "The Provision of Public Goods under Alternative Electoral Incentives," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 225-239, March.
    4. Alberto Alesina & George-Marios Angeletos, 2005. "Fairness and Redistribution," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 960-980, September.
    5. Kau, James B & Rubin, Paul H, 2002. "The Growth of Government:," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 113(3-4), pages 389-402, December.
    6. Peacock, Alan & Scott, Alex, 2000. "The Curious Attraction of Wagner's Law," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 102(1-2), pages 1-17, January.
    7. Alberto Alesina & Edward Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote, 2001. "Why Doesn't The US Have a European-Style Welfare State?," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1933, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    8. Meltzer, Allan H & Richard, Scott F, 1981. "A Rational Theory of the Size of Government," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 914-927, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Andrew C. Pickering & James Rockey, 2012. "Ideology and the growth of US state government," Working Papers 2012/6, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
    2. Andrew Pickering & Sheraz Rajput, 2015. "Inequality and the composition of taxes," Discussion Papers 15/04, Department of Economics, University of York.
    3. Björn Kauder & Niklas Potrafke & Simone Winterer, 2015. "Das Wachstum der Verteidigungsausgaben in Deutschland (1951-2011): Welchen Einfluss haben die Parteien?," ifo Schnelldienst, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 68(10), pages 19-26, May.
    4. John Maloney & Andrew Pickering, "undated". "Voting and the macroeconomy: separating trend from cycle," Discussion Papers 11/14, Department of Economics, University of York.
    5. Michallet, Benjamin & Gaeta, Giuseppe Lucio & Facchini, Francois, 2015. "Greening up or not? The determinants of political parties’ environmental concern: an empirical analysis based on European data (1970-2008)," MPRA Paper 63335, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Mar 2015.
    6. Mickael Melki & Andrew Pickering, 2014. "Polarization and Government Debt," Discussion Papers 14/10, Department of Economics, University of York.
    7. Bjørnskov, Christian & Rode, Martin, 2016. "And Yet It Grows: Crisis, Ideology, and Interventionist Policy Ratchets," Working Paper Series 1135, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
    8. François Facchini & Mickaël Melki, 2013. "Political Ideology and Economic Growth: Evidence from the French Democracy," Documents de travail du Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne 13077, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1), Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne.
    9. François Facchini & Mickael Melki & Andrew Pickering, 2013. "The Labor Share and the Size of Government," Discussion Papers 13/02, Department of Economics, University of York.
    10. Benoît LE MAUX & Kristýna DOSTÁLOVÁ & Fabio PADOVANO, 2017. "Ideology and Public Policies: A Quasi-Experimental Test of the Hypothesis that Left-Wing Governments Spend More," Economics Working Paper from Condorcet Center for political Economy at CREM-CNRS 2017-01-ccr, Condorcet Center for political Economy.
    11. Christian Bjørnskov & Niklas Potrafke, 2013. "The size and scope of government in the US states: does party ideology matter?," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 20(4), pages 687-714, August.
    12. Chatagny, Florian, 2015. "Incentive effects of fiscal rules on the finance minister's behavior: Evidence from revenue projections in Swiss Cantons," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 184-200.
    13. Andrew Pickering & James Rockey, 2013. "Ideology and the size of US state government," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 156(3), pages 443-465, September.
    14. Potrafke, Niklas, 2017. "Partisan politics: The empirical evidence from OECD panel studies," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(4), pages 712-750.
    15. François Facchini & Mickael Melki & Andrew Pickering, 2017. "Labour Costs and the Size of Government," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 79(2), pages 251-275, April.
    16. François Facchini & Mickael Melki, 2014. "Political Ideology And Economic Growth: Evidence From The French Democracy," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 52(4), pages 1408-1426, October.
    17. Parrotta, Pierpaolo & Pozzoli, Dario & Sala, Davide, 2016. "Ethnic diversity and firms' export behavior," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 248-263.
    18. Belke, Ansgar & Potrafke, Niklas, 2012. "Does government ideology matter in monetary policy? A panel data analysis for OECD countries," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 31(5), pages 1126-1139.
    19. Toke S. Aidt & Vítor Castro & Rodrigo Martins, 2016. "Shades of red and blue: Political ideology and sustainable development," NIPE Working Papers 8/2016, NIPE - Universidade do Minho.
    20. Herwartz, Helmut & Theilen, Bernd, 2017. "Ideology and redistribution through public spending," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 74-90.
    21. Benoît Le Maux & Kristýna Dostálová & Fabio Padovano, 2017. "Ideology or Voters? A Quasi-Experimental Test of Why Left-Wing Governments Spend More," Economics Working Paper from Condorcet Center for political Economy at CREM-CNRS 2017-05-ccr, Condorcet Center for political Economy.
    22. repec:hal:wpaper:halshs-01154006 is not listed on IDEAS
    23. Björn Kauder & Niklas Potrafke, 2015. "Globalization and social justice in OECD countries," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 151(2), pages 353-376, May.
    24. Weijie Luo & Andrew Pickering & Paulo Santos Monteiro, 2017. "Inequality and the Size of Government," Discussion Papers 17/02, Department of Economics, University of York.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • H10 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - General


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