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Government Size and Growth: Accounting for Economic Freedom and Globalization

  • Bergh, Andreas

    ()

    (Lund university & The Ratio Institute)

  • Karlsson, Martin

    ()

    (Institute of Ageing, University of Oxford)

Several recent studies have found a negative relation between government size and economic growth in rich countries. Since countries with big government have experienced above average improvements in both the Economic freedom index and the KOF globalization index, we argue that existing studies suffer from an omitted variable problem. Using Bayesian Averaging over Classical Estimates (BACE) in a panel of OECD countries, we show that the negative effect from government size is very robust and may have been underestimated in previous studies. The dataset is an updated and extended version of the data used by Fölster and Henrekson (2001), covering the period 1970-1995. We find clear evidence that globalization has a positive effect on growth, but find no effect of economic freedom. Finally, we find that the negative effect of government size decreases substantially in size but remains significant when we add the period 1996-2005 to the sample. Our results support the idea that countries with big government can use institutional quality such as economic freedom and globalization to mitigate negative growth effects of taxes and public expenditure.

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Paper provided by The Ratio Institute in its series Ratio Working Papers with number 130.

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Length: 26 pages
Date of creation: 16 Feb 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:ratioi:0130
Note: An early version of this paper was presented at the World Meeting of the Public Choice Society, Amsterdam 2007.
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  1. Paul M Romer, 1999. "Increasing Returns and Long-Run Growth," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2232, David K. Levine.
  2. Jac C. Heckelman, 2000. "Economic Freedom and Economic Growth: A Short-run Causal Investigation," Journal of Applied Economics, Universidad del CEMA, vol. 0, pages 71-91, May.
  3. Agell, Jonas & Ohlsson, Henry & Thoursie, Peter Skogman, 2006. "Growth effects of government expenditure and taxation in rich countries: A comment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 211-218, January.
  4. Lee, Ha Yan & Ricci, Luca Antonio & Rigobon, Roberto, 2004. "Once again, is openness good for growth?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 451-472, December.
  5. John W. Dawson, 2001. "Causality in the Freedom-Growth Relationship," Working Papers 01-04, Department of Economics, Appalachian State University.
  6. Folster, Stefan & Henrekson, Magnus, 2001. "Growth effects of government expenditure and taxation in rich countries," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(8), pages 1501-1520, August.
  7. Gernot Doppelhofer & Ronald I. Miller & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 2000. "Determinants of Long-Term Growth: A Bayesian Averaging of Classical Estimates (Bace) Approach," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 266, OECD Publishing.
  8. Rodrik, Dani, 1996. "Why do More Open Economies Have Bigger Governments?," CEPR Discussion Papers 1388, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Axel Dreher, 2003. "The Influence of Globalization on Taxes and Social Policy – an Empirical Analysis for OECD Countries," Public Economics 0310002, EconWPA, revised 27 Feb 2004.
  10. Romero-Ávila, Diego & Strauch, Rolf, 2008. "Public finances and long-term growth in Europe: Evidence from a panel data analysis," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 172-191, March.
  11. Barro, Robert J & Lee, Jong-Wha, 2001. "International Data on Educational Attainment: Updates and Implications," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 53(3), pages 541-63, July.
  12. Avinash Dixit, 2009. "Governance Institutions and Economic Activity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 5-24, March.
  13. Sinn, Hans-Werner, 1997. "The selection principle and market failure in systems competition," Munich Reprints in Economics 19854, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  14. Edward M. Gramlich & Henry J. Aaron & Michael C. Lovell, 1982. "An Econometric Examination of the New Federalism," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 13(2), pages 327-370.
  15. Manishi Prasad & Peter Wahlqvist & Rich Shikiar & Ya-Chen Tina Shih, 2004. "A," PharmacoEconomics, Springer Healthcare | Adis, vol. 22(4), pages 225-244.
  16. Axel Dreher & Jan-Egbert Sturm & Heinrich Ursprung, 2006. "The Impact of Globalization on the Composition of Government Expenditures: Evidence from Panel Data," CESifo Working Paper Series 1755, CESifo Group Munich.
  17. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521529167 is not listed on IDEAS
  18. Castles, Francis G., 2004. "The Future of the Welfare State: Crisis Myths and Crisis Realities," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199273928, March.
  19. Axel Dreher, 2002. "Does Globalization Affect Growth?," Development and Comp Systems 0210004, EconWPA, revised 04 Feb 2003.
  20. Mendoza, Enrique G. & Milesi-Ferretti, Gian Maria & Asea, Patrick, 1997. "On the ineffectiveness of tax policy in altering long-run growth: Harberger's superneutrality conjecture," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 99-126, October.
  21. Doucouliagos, Chris & Ulubasoglu, Mehmet Ali, 2006. "Economic freedom and economic growth: Does specification make a difference?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 60-81, March.
  22. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521821759 is not listed on IDEAS
  23. Francisco Rodriguez & Dani Rodrik, 1999. "Trade Policy and Economic Growth: A Skeptic's Guide to Cross-National Evidence," NBER Working Papers 7081, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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