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Government Spending Cyclicality: Evidence from Rainfall Shocks as an Instrument for Cyclical Income


  • Brückner, Markus
  • Gradstein, Mark


This research revisits the cyclicality of fiscal policies. To identify and estimate more precisely the magnitude of a causal effect of cyclical income on government spending, we employ annual rainfall data as an instrument for national income in the context of sub-Saharan countries. Our results confirm procyclical behavior of government spending and of tax revenues; debt and deficit are found to be countercyclical. Specifically, government spending is procyclical during upturns and acyclical during downturns. We also find that its procyclicality is correlated with corruption, especially among democracies.

Suggested Citation

  • Brückner, Markus & Gradstein, Mark, 2011. "Government Spending Cyclicality: Evidence from Rainfall Shocks as an Instrument for Cyclical Income," CEPR Discussion Papers 8622, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8622

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Zvi Hercowitz & Michel Strawczynski, 2004. "Cyclical Ratcheting in Government Spending: Evidence from the OECD," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(1), pages 353-361, February.
    2. Alberto Alesina & Filipe R. Campante & Guido Tabellini, 2008. "Why is Fiscal Policy Often Procyclical?," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 6(5), pages 1006-1036, September.
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    4. Ugo Panizza & Dany Jaimovich, 2007. "Procyclicality or Reverse Causality?," Research Department Publications 4508, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
    5. repec:hrv:faseco:34729976 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Barro, Robert J, 1979. "On the Determination of the Public Debt," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 940-971, October.
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    8. Talvi, Ernesto & Vegh, Carlos A., 2005. "Tax base variability and procyclical fiscal policy in developing countries," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(1), pages 156-190, October.
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    10. Ilzetzki, Ethan, 2011. "Rent-seeking distortions and fiscal procyclicality," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(1), pages 30-46, September.
    11. James H. Stock & Motohiro Yogo, 2002. "Testing for Weak Instruments in Linear IV Regression," NBER Technical Working Papers 0284, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Ethan Ilzetzki & Carlos A. Vegh, 2008. "Procyclical Fiscal Policy in Developing Countries: Truth or Fiction?," NBER Working Papers 14191, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Im, Kyung So & Pesaran, M. Hashem & Shin, Yongcheol, 2003. "Testing for unit roots in heterogeneous panels," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 115(1), pages 53-74, July.
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    15. Edward Miguel & Shanker Satyanath & Ernest Sergenti, 2004. "Economic Shocks and Civil Conflict: An Instrumental Variables Approach," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(4), pages 725-753, August.
    16. Brückner, Markus, 2012. "An instrumental variables approach to estimating tax revenue elasticities: Evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(2), pages 220-227.
    17. Paolo Mauro, 1995. "Corruption and Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(3), pages 681-712.
    18. Salvador Barrios & Luisito Bertinelli & Eric Strobl, 2010. "Trends in Rainfall and Economic Growth in Africa: A Neglected Cause of the African Growth Tragedy," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(2), pages 350-366, May.
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    More about this item


    cyclicality; Fiscal policy;

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy

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