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Government spending volatility and the size of nations

  • Furceri, Davide
  • Poplawski Ribeiro, Marcos

This paper provides empirical evidence showing that smaller countries tend to have more volatile government spending for a sample of 160 countries from 1960 to 2000. We argue that the larger size of a country decreases the volatility of government spending because it acts as an insurance against idiosyncratic shocks, and it leads to increasing returns to scale due to the higher ability of the government to spread its cost of financing over a larger pool of taxpayers. The results are robust to different time and country samples, different econometric techniques and to several sets of control variables. The analysis also evinces that country size is negatively related to the discretionary part of government spending and to the volatilities of most of the government spending items. JEL Classification: E62, H10

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Paper provided by European Central Bank in its series Working Paper Series with number 0924.

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Date of creation: Aug 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ecb:ecbwps:20080924
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  1. Davide Furceri & Georgios Karras, 2008. "Business cycle volatility and country zize :evidence for a sample of OECD countries," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 5(3), pages 1-7.
  2. Wacziarg, Romain & Alesina, Alberto, 1998. "Openness, Country Size and Government," Scholarly Articles 4553014, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  3. Afonso, António & Schuknecht, Ludger & Tanzi, Vito, 2006. "Public sector efficiency: evidence for new EU member states and emerging markets," Working Paper Series 0581, European Central Bank.
  4. Beetsma, Roel & Debrun, Xavier & Klaassen, Franc, 2001. "Is Fiscal Policy Coordination in EMU Desirable?," CEPR Discussion Papers 3035, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Antonio Fatás & Ilian Mihov, 2013. "Policy Volatility, Institutions, and Economic Growth," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(2), pages 362-376, May.
  6. repec:ebl:ecbull:v:5:y:2008:i:3:p:1-7 is not listed on IDEAS
  7. Andrew K. Rose, 2006. "Size Really Doesn't Matter: In Search of a National Scale Effect," NBER Working Papers 12191, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Poplawski Ribeiro, Marcos & Beetsma, Roel, 2008. "The political economy of structural reforms under a deficit restriction," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 179-198, March.
  9. Rose, Andrew K., 2006. "Size really doesn't matter: In search of a national scale effect," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 482-507, December.
  10. Fatás, Antonio & Mihov, Ilian, 2004. "The Macroeconomic Effects of Fiscal Rules in the US States," CEPR Discussion Papers 4372, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Alesina, Alberto & Spolaore, Enrico & Wacziarg, Romain, 2005. "Trade, Growth and the Size of Countries," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 23, pages 1499-1542 Elsevier.
  12. Dani Rodrik, 1996. "Why Do More Open Economies Have Bigger Governments?," NBER Working Papers 5537, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock, 1994. "Instrumental Variables Regression with Weak Instruments," NBER Technical Working Papers 0151, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Beetsma, R.M.W.J. & Bovenberg, A.L., 1995. "Monetary union without fiscal coordination may discipline policymakers," Discussion Paper 1995-59, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  15. Rand, John & Tarp, Finn, 2001. "Business Cycles in Developing Countries: Are They Different?," MPRA Paper 62445, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  16. Garey Ramey & Valerie A. Ramey, 1994. "Cross-Country Evidence on the Link Between Volatility and Growth," NBER Working Papers 4959, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Ruggles, Patricia & O'Higgins, Michael, 1981. "The Distribution of Public Expenditure among Households in the United States," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 27(2), pages 137-64, June.
  18. Antonio Fatás & Ilian Mihov, 2003. "The Case for Restricting Fiscal Policy Discretion," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1419-1447.
  19. Norman V. Loayza & Romain Rancière & Luis Servén & Jaume Ventura, 2007. "Macroeconomic Volatility and Welfare in Developing Countries: An Introduction," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 21(3), pages 343-357, October.
  20. La Porta, Rafael & Lopez-de-Silanes, Florencio & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert, 1999. "The Quality of Government," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(1), pages 222-79, April.
  21. Furceri, Davide & Karras, Georgios, 2007. "Country size and business cycle volatility: Scale really matters," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 21(4), pages 424-434, December.
  22. Jean Imbs, 2007. "Growth and Volatility," Post-Print hal-00612554, HAL.
  23. Davide Furceri, 2007. "Is Government Expenditure Volatility Harmful for Growth? A Cross-Country Analysis," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 28(1), pages 103-120, 03.
  24. Patrick Bolton & Gérard Roland, 1997. "The Breakup of Nations: A Political Economy Analysis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1057-1090.
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