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Public Debt and Economic Growth in Italy

  • Fabrizio Balassone

    ()

    (Bank of Italy)

  • Maura Francese

    ()

    (Bank of Italy)

  • Angelo Pace

    ()

    (Bank of Italy)

In this paper we investigate the link between government debt-to-GDP ratio and real per capita income growth in Italy over 1861-2009. We model our regression analysis on a standard production function. Our results support the hypotheses of a negative relation between public debt and growth and of a stronger effect of foreign debt compared to domestic debt before World War I. The effect of public debt on growth appears to work mainly through reduced investment. These results help explain the different reaction of per capita GDP growth to the debt-ratio over 1880-1914 (when the negative correlation between the two variables is particularly strong) and 1985-2007 (when the correlation appears to break down when debt starts declining). A descriptive analysis of fiscal policy in these two periods suggests that differences in the timing of fiscal consolidation as well as in the size and composition of the budget are additional explanatory factors.

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Paper provided by Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area in its series Quaderni di storia economica (Economic History Working Papers) with number 11.

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Date of creation: Oct 2011
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Handle: RePEc:bdi:workqs:qse_11
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  1. Bhaskara Rao, 2005. "Estimating Short and Long Run Relationships: A Guide to the Applied Economist," Econometrics 0508013, EconWPA.
  2. N. Gregory Mankiw & David Romer & David N. Weil, 1990. "A Contribution to the Empirics of Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 3541, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Paul R. Krugman, 1988. "Financing vs. Forgiving a Debt Overhang," NBER Working Papers 2486, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Checherita-Westphal, Cristina & Rother, Philipp, 2010. "The impact of high and growing government debt on economic growth: an empirical investigation for the euro area," Working Paper Series 1237, European Central Bank.
  5. Raffaello Bronzini & Paolo Piselli, 2006. "Determinants of long-run regional productivity: the role of R&D, human capital and public infrastructure," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 597, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  6. Christophe Kamps, 2004. "The Dynamic Effects of Public Capital: VAR Evidence for 22 OECD Countries," Kiel Working Papers 1224, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
  7. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
  8. Maura Francese & Angelo Pace, 2008. "Italian Public debt since national unification. A reconstruction of the time series," Questioni di Economia e Finanza (Occasional Papers) 31, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  9. Bottazzi, Laura & Peri, Giovanni, 2004. "The Dynamics of R&D and Innovation in the Short-Run and in the Long-Run," CEPR Discussion Papers 4479, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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