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Growth Effects of Government Expenditure and Taxation in Rich Countries: A Comment

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In a recent article Stefan Fölster and Magnus Henrekson [2001] argue that “…the more the econometric problems that are addressed, the more robust the relationship between government size and economic growth appears”. But in failing to control for simultaneity in a valid manner the regressions reported by Fölster/Henrekson are flawed. Moreover, using theoretically valid instruments we find that the estimated partial correlation between size of the public sector and economic growth is statistically insignificant and highly unstable across specifications. A policy-maker who wants to promote growth is well-advised to look for other evidence than cross-country growth regressions.

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  • Agell, Jonas & Ohlsson, Henry & Skogman Thoursie, Peter, 2003. "Growth Effects of Government Expenditure and Taxation in Rich Countries: A Comment," Research Papers in Economics 2003:14, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:sunrpe:2003_0014
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    1. Agell, Jonas & Lindh, Thomas & Ohlsson, Henry, 1999. "Growth and the public sector: A reply," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 359-366, June.
    2. Joel Slemrod, 1995. "What Do Cross-Country Studies Teach about Government Involvement, Prosperity, and Economic Growth?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 26(2), pages 373-431.
    3. Stephen Bond & Anke Hoeffler & Jonathan Temple, 2001. "GMM Estimation of Empirical Growth Models," Economics Papers 2001-W21, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
    4. Jonathan Temple, 1999. "The New Growth Evidence," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 112-156, March.
    5. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock, 1997. "Instrumental Variables Regression with Weak Instruments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(3), pages 557-586, May.
    6. Agell, Jonas & Lindh, Thomas & Ohlsson, Henry, 1997. "Growth and the public sector: A critical review essay," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 33-52, February.
    7. Atkinson, Anthony B., 1995. "The Welfare State and Economic Performance," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 48(2), pages 171-98, June.
    8. Stock, James H & Wright, Jonathan H & Yogo, Motohiro, 2002. "A Survey of Weak Instruments and Weak Identification in Generalized Method of Moments," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 20(4), pages 518-529, October.
    9. 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.
    10. Gregory Mankiw, 1995. "The Growth of Nations," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 26(1, 25th A), pages 275-326.
    11. Atkinson, Anthony B., 1995. "The Welfare State and Economic Performance," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 48(2), pages 171-198, June.
    12. Folster, Stefan & Henrekson, Magnus, 1999. "Growth and the public sector: a critique of the critics," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 337-358, June.
    13. Blundell, Richard & Bond, Stephen, 1998. "Initial conditions and moment restrictions in dynamic panel data models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 87(1), pages 115-143, August.
    14. Boozer, Michael A., 1997. "Econometric Analysis of Panel Data Badi H. Baltagi Wiley, 1995," Econometric Theory, Cambridge University Press, vol. 13(05), pages 747-754, October.
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    Keywords

    Economic growth; public sector; cross-country regressions; panel regressions;

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H20 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - General
    • H50 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - General
    • O57 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Comparative Studies of Countries

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