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Effects of Growth and Volatility in Public Expenditures on Economic Growth: Theory and Evidence


  • Liutang Gong

    (Guanghua School of Management, Peking University
    Institute for Advanced Study, Wuhan University)

  • Heng-fu Zou

    (Guanghua School of Management, Peking University
    Institute for Advanced Study, Wuhan University
    Development Research Group, The World Bank)


This paper sets up a theoretical model linking the growth rate of the economy to the growth rate and volatility of different government expenditures. On a theoretical basis, it is found that volatility in government spending can be positively or negatively associated with economic growth depending on the intertemporal elasticity in consumption. On an empirical basis, it is rather surprising to find no association between growth in capital expenditure and output growth, whereas growth in current expenditure seems to stimulate output growth. In particular, growth in transportation and communication seems to have a negative effect on output growth. It is also very interesting to find that the rises in the volatility in the growth of general public services, transportation, and communication have a positive effect on output growth.

Suggested Citation

  • Liutang Gong & Heng-fu Zou, 2011. "Effects of Growth and Volatility in Public Expenditures on Economic Growth: Theory and Evidence," CEMA Working Papers 494, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:cuf:wpaper:494

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Obstfeld, Maurice, 1994. "Risk-Taking, Global Diversification, and Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1310-1329, December.
    2. Ramey, Garey & Ramey, Valerie A, 1995. "Cross-Country Evidence on the Link between Volatility and Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1138-1151, December.
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    5. Bertola, Giuseppe & Drazen, Allan, 1993. "Trigger Points and Budget Cuts: Explaining the Effects of Fiscal Austerity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(1), pages 11-26, March.
    6. Turnovsky, Stephen J, 1993. "Macroeconomic Policies, Growth, and Welfare in a Stochastic Economy," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 34(4), pages 953-981, November.
    7. Jonathan Eaton, 1981. "Fiscal Policy, Inflation and the Accumulation of Risky Capital," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 48(3), pages 435-445.
    8. Barro, Robert J, 1990. "Government Spending in a Simple Model of Endogenous Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(5), pages 103-126, October.
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    10. Kormendi, Roger C. & Meguire, Philip G., 1985. "Macroeconomic determinants of growth: Cross-country evidence," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 141-163, September.
    11. David Romer, 1993. "Openness and Inflation: Theory and Evidence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(4), pages 869-903.
    12. Turnovsky, Stephen J. & Fisher, Walter H., 1995. "The composition of government expenditure and its consequences for macroeconomic performance," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 747-786, May.
    13. Alesina, Alberto & Özler, Sule & Roubini, Nouriel & Swagel, Phillip, 1996. "Political Instability and Economic Growth," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 1(2), pages 189-211, June.
    14. Easterly, William & Rebelo, Sergio, 1993. "Fiscal policy and economic growth: An empirical investigation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 417-458, December.
    15. Peltzman, Sam, 1980. "The Growth of Government," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(2), pages 209-287, October.
    16. Gali, Jordi, 1994. "Government size and macroeconomic stability," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 117-132, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Dai, Darong, 2011. "Modeling the minimum time needed to economic maturity," MPRA Paper 40583, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 08 Aug 2012.
    2. repec:taf:regstd:v:51:y:2017:i:4:p:507-522 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Agnese Sacchi & Simone Salotti, 2017. "The influence of decentralized taxes and intergovernmental grants on local spending volatility," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 51(4), pages 507-522, April.
    4. Afonso, António & Furceri, Davide, 2010. "Government size, composition, volatility and economic growth," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 517-532, December.
    5. Wang, Chan, 2012. "A very preliminary survey on growth and development," MPRA Paper 39037, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Po‐Sheng Lin & Cheng‐Te Lee, 2012. "Military Spending, Threats And Stochastic Growth," Bulletin of Economic Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(1), pages 8-19, January.
    7. Juncheng Feng & Rui Hao & Yang Li & Kezhong Zhang, 2012. "The Effect of Leadership Transition on Government Expenditure: Evidence from China," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 13(1), pages 91-112, May.

    More about this item


    Public expenditures; Volatility; Economic growth;

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • I00 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - General - - - General
    • H5 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies
    • O4 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity

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