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Federal, State, and Local Governments:Evaluating their Separate Roles in US Growth

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  • Matthew J. Higgins

    () (College of Management, Georgia Institute of Technology)

  • Andrew T. Young

    (Department of Economics, University of Mississippi)

  • Daniel Levy

    () (Department of Economics, Bar-Ilan University, Rimini Center for Economic Analysis)

Abstract

We use US county level data (3,058 observations) from 1970 to 1998 to explore the relationship between economic growth and the extent of government employment at three levels: federal, state and local. We find that increases in federal, state and local government employments are all negatively associated with economic growth. We find no evidence that government is more efficient at more decentralized levels. While we cannot separate out the productive and redistributive services of government, we document that the county-level income distribution became slightly wider from 1970 to 1998. For those who justify government activities in terms of equity concerns – perhaps even trading off economic growth for equity – the burden falls on them to show that the income distribution would have widened more in the absence of government activities. We conclude that a release of government-employed labor inputs to the private sector would be growth-enhancing.

Suggested Citation

  • Matthew J. Higgins & Andrew T. Young & Daniel Levy, 2008. "Federal, State, and Local Governments:Evaluating their Separate Roles in US Growth," Working Papers 2008-02, Bar-Ilan University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:biu:wpaper:2008-02
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Snir, Avichai & Levy, Daniel, 2010. "Economic Growth in the Potterian Economy," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - German National Library of Economics, pages 211-236.
    2. Ma, Xufei & Ding, Zhujun & Yuan, Lin, 2016. "Subnational institutions, political capital, and the internationalization of entrepreneurial firms in emerging economies," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 51(5), pages 843-854.
    3. Young, Andrew T. & Higgins, Matthew J. & Levy, Daniel, 2013. "Heterogeneous convergence," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 120(2), pages 238-241.
    4. Shanaka Herath, 2009. "The Size of the Government and Economic Growth: An Empirical Study of Sri Lanka," SRE-Disc sre-disc-2009_08, Institute for Multilevel Governance and Development, Department of Socioeconomics, Vienna University of Economics and Business.
    5. Bologna, Jamie & Young, Andrew T. & Lacombe, Donald J., 2016. "A spatial analysis of incomes and institutional quality: evidence from US metropolitan areas," Journal of Institutional Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 12(01), pages 191-216, March.
    6. Travis Wiseman & Andrew Young, 2011. "Economic Freedom, Entrepreneurship, & Income Levels: Some US State-Level Empirics," Working Papers 11-03, Department of Economics, West Virginia University.
    7. Shanaka Herath, 2012. "Size Of Government And Economic Growth: A Nonlinear Analysis," Economic Annals, Faculty of Economics, University of Belgrade, vol. 57(194), pages 7-30, July - Se.
    8. Timothy Komarek & Scott Loveridge, 2015. "Firm Sizes And Economic Development: Estimating Long-Term Effects On U.S. County Growth, 1990–2000," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(2), pages 262-279, March.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Economic Growth; Federal Government; State Government; Local Government; and County-Level Data;

    JEL classification:

    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General
    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O18 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Urban, Rural, Regional, and Transportation Analysis; Housing; Infrastructure
    • O51 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - U.S.; Canada
    • R11 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Regional Economic Activity: Growth, Development, Environmental Issues, and Changes
    • H50 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - General
    • H70 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - General

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