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What do governments buy?

Author

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  • 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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    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. Herath, Shanaka, 2009. "The Size of the Government and Economic Growth: An Empirical Study of Sri Lanka," SRE-Discussion Papers 2009/08, WU Vienna University of Economics and Business.
    4. Alesina, Alberto & Perotti, Roberto, 1996. "Income distribution, political instability, and investment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(6), pages 1203-1228, June.
    5. Roland Benabou, 2000. "Unequal Societies: Income Distribution and the Social Contract," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 96-129, March.
    6. 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.
    7. Roland Bénabou, 1996. "Inequality and Growth," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1996, Volume 11, pages 11-92, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Roman Arjona & Maxime Ladaique & Mark Pearson, 2003. "Social Protection and Growth," OECD Economic Studies, OECD Publishing, vol. 2002(2), pages 7-45.
    9. Abdul Qayyum & Idrees Khawaja & Asma Hyder, 2008. "Growth Diagnostics in Pakistan," PIDE-Working Papers 2008:47, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics.
    10. Tobin Im & Wonhyuk Cho & Gregory Porumbescu, 2011. "An Empirical Analysis of the Relation Between Social Spending and Economic Growth in Developing Countries and OECD Members," Asia Pacific Journal of Public Administration, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 33(1), pages 37-55, June.
    11. 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.
    12. 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.
    13. Benabou, R., 1996. "Unequal Societies," Working Papers 96-17, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
    14. Roman Arjona & Maxime Ladaique & Mark Pearson, 2001. "Growth, Inequality and Social Protection," OECD Labour Market and Social Policy Occasional Papers 51, OECD Publishing.
    15. 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.
    16. 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.
    17. 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.
    18. Swaroop, Vinaya & DEC, 1994. "The public finance of infrastructure : issues and options," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1288, The World Bank.
    19. 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.

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