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Political competition, causal relationships between taxes and spending, and their influence on government size: evidence from state-level data


  • Diane Lim Rogers
  • John H. Rogers


Theories of fiscal illusion and political competition have different implications for (i) the causal relationships between taxes and spending, and (ii) government size. These are tested using data from u.s. states from 1950 to 1990. We find evidence that greater political competition generally encourages bigger government, the Democratic Party is associated with bigger government, and state governments which "tax first, spend later" are more likely to be large. Other factors related to the fiscal illusion and political competition theories also appear to be important determinants of government size.

Suggested Citation

  • Diane Lim Rogers & John H. Rogers, 1995. "Political competition, causal relationships between taxes and spending, and their influence on government size: evidence from state-level data," International Finance Discussion Papers 500, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgif:500

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hoover, Kevin D & Sheffrin, Steven M, 1992. "Causation, Spending, and Taxes: Sand in the Sandbox or Tax Collector for the Welfare State?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(1), pages 225-248, March.
    2. Holtz-Eakin, Douglas & Newey, Whitney & Rosen, Harvey S, 1989. "The Revenues-Expenditures Nexus: Evidence from Local Government Data," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 30(2), pages 415-429, May.
    3. Timothy Besley & Anne Case, 1995. "Does Electoral Accountability Affect Economic Policy Choices? Evidence from Gubernatorial Term Limits," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(3), pages 769-798.
    4. Barro, Robert J, 1979. "On the Determination of the Public Debt," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 940-971, October.
    5. John Mikesell, 1978. "Election periods and state tax policy cycles," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 33(3), pages 99-106, January.
    6. Rubinfeld, Daniel L., 1987. "The economics of the local public sector," Handbook of Public Economics,in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 11, pages 571-645 Elsevier.
    7. Dennis Mueller & Peter Murrell, 1986. "Interest groups and the size of government," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 48(2), pages 125-145, January.
    8. von Furstenberg, George M & Green, R Jeffrey & Jeong, Jin-Ho, 1986. "Tax and Spend, or Spend and Tax?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 68(2), pages 179-188, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Fox, William F. & Gurley, Tami, 2006. "Will consolidation improve sub-national governments ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3913, The World Bank.

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    State finance ; Taxation;


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