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

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  • Tamim Bayoumi
  • Fernando M. Gonçalves

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Tamim Bayoumi & Fernando M. Gonçalves, 2007. "Government for the People; On the Determinants of the Size of U.S. Government," IMF Working Papers 07/289, International Monetary Fund.
  • Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:07/289
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Henning Bohn, "undated". "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.
    2. Poterba, James M, 1994. "State Responses to Fiscal Crises: The Effects of Budgetary Institutions and Politics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(4), pages 799-821, August.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    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 914-927, October.
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