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What do governments buy?

Author

Listed:
  • Shantayanan Devarajan
  • Vinaya Swaroop
  • Heng-fu Zou

Abstract

The authors develop a simple analytical framework that shows how the composition of public spending affects economic growth. Distinguishing between productive and unproductive government spending (that which complements private sector productivity and that which does not), they show that increasing the share of productive spending leads to a higher steady-state economic growth rate. They use data from 69 developing countries over 20 years to determine which components of public spending are productive. They find that an increase in the share of current spending has positive and statistically significant effects on growth. Otherwise, the news is mainly negative. The relationship between the capital component of public spending and per capita growth is negative. The same is true of the share of spending on transport and communications. The shares spent on health and education have no significant impact, although parts of those shares - the parts spent on preventative care and"other education"- do. The results raise the question whether public spending actually leads to a flow of public goods and services.

Suggested Citation

  • Shantayanan Devarajan & Vinaya Swaroop & Heng-fu Zou, 1993. "What do governments buy?," CEMA Working Papers 513, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:cuf:wpaper:513
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. William Easterly, 1989. "Policy Distortions, Size of Government, and Growth," NBER Working Papers 3214, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Barro, Robert J, 1981. "Output Effects of Government Purchases," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(6), pages 1086-1121, December.
    3. Ahmed, Shaghil, 1986. "Temporary and permanent government spending in an open economy: Some evidence for the United Kingdom," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 197-224, March.
    4. Grier, Kevin B. & Tullock, Gordon, 1989. "An empirical analysis of cross-national economic growth, 1951-1980," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 259-276, September.
    5. Morrison, Catherine J & Schwartz, Amy Ellen, 1996. "State Infrastructure and Productive Performance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(5), pages 1095-1111, December.
    6. Aschauer, David Alan & Greenwood, Jeremy, 1985. "Macroeconomic effects of fiscal policy," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 91-138, January.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Pillai N., Vijayamohanan, 2008. "Infrastructure, Growth And Human Development In Kerala," MPRA Paper 7017, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Manuel Alejandro Cardenete & Ferran Sancho, 2012. "The Role Of Supply Constraints In Multiplier Analysis," Economic Systems Research, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 24(1), pages 21-34, June.
    3. Roland Benabou, 2000. "Unequal Societies: Income Distribution and the Social Contract," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 96-129, March.
    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. Abdul Qayyum & Idrees Khawaja & Asma Hyder, 2008. "Growth Diagnostics in Pakistan," PIDE-Working Papers 2008:47, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics.
    6. Roman Arjona & Maxime Ladaique & Mark Pearson, 2001. "Growth, Inequality and Social Protection," OECD Labour Market and Social Policy Occasional Papers 51, OECD Publishing.
    7. Torres Preciado, Víctor Hugo & Polanco Gaytán, Mayrén & Manzanares Rivera, José Luis, 2010. "Diferencias en el ingreso per cápita regional e infraestructura de transporte en México
      [Differences in per capita regional income and transport infrastructure in Mexico]
      ," MPRA Paper 28081, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Korhan Gokmenoglu, 2013. "Re-Examination Of Wagner’S Law For Oecd Countries," Annals - Economy Series, Constantin Brancusi University, Faculty of Economics, vol. 1, pages 28-37, February.
    9. Devarajan, Shantayanan & Danyang, Xie & Zou, Heng-fu, 1998. "Should public capital be subsidized or provided?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 319-331, April.
    10. Roland Bénabou, 1996. "Inequality and Growth," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1996, Volume 11, pages 11-92 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Roland Benabou, 1996. "Unequal Societies," NBER Working Papers 5583, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Swaroop, Vinaya & DEC, 1994. "The public finance of infrastructure : issues and options," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1288, The World Bank.
    13. Perotti, Roberto & Alesina, Alberto, 1996. "Income Distribution, Political Instability, and Investment," Scholarly Articles 4553018, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    14. Rao, M. Govinda, 1998. "Accommodating public expenditure policies: the case of fast growing Asian economies," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 673-694, April.
    15. Roman Arjona & Maxime Ladaique, 2003. "Mark Pearson Growth, Inequality and Social Protection," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 29(s1), pages 119-140, January.
    16. Roman Arjona & Maxime Ladaique & Mark Pearson, 2003. "Social Protection and Growth," OECD Economic Studies, OECD Publishing, vol. 2002(2), pages 7-45.
    17. Randolph, Susan*Bogetic, Zeljko*Hefley, Dennis, 1996. "Determinants of public expenditure on infrastructure : transportation and communication," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1661, The World Bank.
    18. Riccarda Longaretti, 2001. "Wealth Distribution, Investment in Human Capital and Occupational Choice When Capital Markets Are Imperfect," Working Papers 38, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised Nov 2001.
    19. repec:wiw:wus009:2962 is not listed on IDEAS
    20. repec:wiw:wus009:6098 is not listed on IDEAS

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