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The composition of public expenditure and economic growth

  • Shantayanan Devarajan

    (Policy Research Department, The World Bank)

  • Vinaya Swaroop

    (Policy Research Department, The World Bank)

  • Heng-fu Zou

    (Policy Research Department, The World Bank)

Noting that the literature has focused on the link between the level of public expenditure and growth, we derive conditions under which a change in the composition of expenditure leads to a higher steady-state growth rate of the economy. The conditions depend not just on the physical productivity of the different components of public expenditure but also on the initial shares. Using data from 43 developing countries over 20 years we show that an increase in the share of current expenditure has positive and statistically significant growth effects. By contrast, the relationship between the capital component of public expenditure and per-capita growth is negative. Thus, seemingly productive expenditures, when used in excess, could become unproductive. These results imply that developing-country governments have been misallocating public expenditures in favor of capital expenditures at the expense of current expenditures.

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Paper provided by China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics in its series CEMA Working Papers with number 77.

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: 1996
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Journal of Monetary Economics, Volume 37, Issue 2, April 1996, Pages 313-344
Handle: RePEc:cuf:wpaper:77
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://cema.cufe.edu.cn/

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  1. Hansen, Lars Peter & Hodrick, Robert J, 1980. "Forward Exchange Rates as Optimal Predictors of Future Spot Rates: An Econometric Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(5), pages 829-53, October.
  2. Summers, Robert & Heston, Alan, 1988. "A New Set of International Comparisons of Real Product and Price Levels Estimates for 130 Countries, 1950-1985," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 34(1), pages 1-25, March.
  3. Robert J. Barro, 1988. "Government Spending in a Simple Model of Endogenous Growth," NBER Working Papers 2588, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Lindauer, David L & Velenchik, Ann D, 1992. "Government Spending in Developing Countries: Trends, Causes, and Consequences," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 7(1), pages 59-78, January.
  7. Easterly, William & Rebelo, Sérgio, 1994. "Fiscal Policy and Economic Growth: An Empirical Investigation," CEPR Discussion Papers 885, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Barro, R.J., 1989. "Economic Growth In A Cross Section Of Countries," RCER Working Papers 201, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  9. Easterly, William R., 1989. "Policy distortions, size of government, and growth," Policy Research Working Paper Series 344, The World Bank.
  10. Zhang, Tao & Zou, Heng-fu, 2001. "The growth impact of intersectoral and intergovernmental allocation of public expenditure: With applications to China and India," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 58-81.
  11. 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.
  12. Syrquin, M. & Chenery, H.B., 1989. "Patterns Of Development, 1950 To 1983," World Bank - Discussion Papers 41, World Bank.
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