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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
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Handle: RePEc:ecb:ecbwps:20080924
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  1. 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.
  2. Antonio Afonso & Ludger Schuknecht & Vito Tanzi, 2010. "Public sector efficiency: evidence for new EU member states and emerging markets," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 42(17), pages 2147-2164.
  3. Fatás, Antonio & Mihov, Ilian, 2005. "Policy Volatility, Institutions and Economic Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 5388, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  7. 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.
  8. repec:ebl:ecbull:v:5:y:2008:i:3:p:1-7 is not listed on IDEAS
  9. 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 1138-51, December.
  10. Jean Imbs, 2006. "Growth and Volatility," Swiss Finance Institute Research Paper Series 06-09, Swiss Finance Institute.
  11. Beetsma, Roel M. W. J. & Lans Bovenberg, A., 1998. "Monetary union without fiscal coordination may discipline policymakers," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(2), pages 239-258, August.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. Rodrik, Dani, 1996. "Why do More Open Economies Have Bigger Governments?," CEPR Discussion Papers 1388, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  16. Alesina, Alberto & Wacziarg, Romain, 1998. "Openness, country size and government," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(3), pages 305-321, September.
  17. Fatás, Antonio & Mihov, Ilian, 2002. "The Case for Restricting Fiscal Policy Discretion," CEPR Discussion Papers 3277, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  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. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock, 1997. "Instrumental Variables Regression with Weak Instruments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(3), pages 557-586, May.
  24. 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.
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