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Government for the People: On the Determinants of the Size of U.S. Government

  • Tamim Bayoumi
  • Fernando M. Gonçalves

Trends in the size of U.S. government are examined. In the postwar period, general government primary spending rose by ¼ percent of GDP a year through 1975, stabilizing thereafter. With higher social transfers offset by a lower burden of defense spending, expansion reflected a baby-boom driven rise in education spending. The parallel improvement in tax efficiency helped equate the benefits of higher spending with the costs from higher taxation, in accordance with a marginalist view of the size of government. Looking forward, the retirement of baby boomers appears likely to expand government and lead to a more efficient tax system.

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Paper provided by International Monetary Fund in its series IMF Working Papers with number 07/289.

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Length: 31
Date of creation: 01 Dec 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:07/289
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  1. Bohn, Henning & Inman, Robert P., 1996. "Balanced-budget rules and public deficits: evidence from the U.S. states," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 13-76, December.
  2. Henning Bohn, . "Budget Balance Through Revenue or Spending Adjustments ? Some Historical Evidence for the United States (Reprint 013)," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 03-91, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  3. Barro, Robert J, 1979. "On the Determination of the Public Debt," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 940-71, October.
  4. Tamim Bayoumi & Barry Eichengreen, 1995. "Restraining Yourself: The Implications of Fiscal Rules for Economic Stabilization," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 42(1), pages 32-48, March.
  5. James M. Poterba, 1993. "State Responses to Fiscal Crisis: The Effects of Budgetary Institutionsand Politics," NBER Working Papers 4375, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Tsangyao Chang & Wen Rong Liu & Steven Caudill, 2002. "Tax-and-spend, spend-and-tax, or fiscal synchronization: new evidence for ten countries," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 34(12), pages 1553-1561.
  7. Meltzer, Allan H & Richard, Scott F, 1981. "A Rational Theory of the Size of Government," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 914-27, October.
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