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Government and Growth

The relative size of the State in industrialized economies has increased dramatically during the past century giving rise to legitimate fears that such a trend might end up having an adverse impact on growth. This paper explores the relationship between the development of government activities and economic growth. It starts by evoking problems related to the measurement of the public sector before reviewing statistical evidence on the long-term growth of the share of the State in the economy. It then provides a number of explanations for this phenomenon including those pertaining to the functioning of the political system itself thereby pointing towards inefficiencies. The next step is to explore the principal avenues along which government interventions can positively or negatively interfere with the growth potential of the economy. It turns out that while public expenditures – especially those responding to market failures – tend to be favorable to growth, most taxes are growth-hindering. The final part of the paper singles out some pitfalls in the empirical investigation of this relationship. The conjecture is that the nonlinear and possibly endogenous nature of the hypothesized nexus can explain the lack of consensus in empirical studies conducted so far.

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Paper provided by IRENE Institute of Economic Research in its series IRENE Working Papers with number 11-02.

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Length: 22 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:irn:wpaper:11-02
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  1. Fölster, Stefan & Henrekson, Magnus, 1997. "Growth and the Public Sector: A Critique of the Critics," Working Paper Series 492, Research Institute of Industrial Economics, revised 10 Jun 1998.
  2. Kneller, Richard & Bleaney, Michael F. & Gemmell, Norman, 1999. "Fiscal policy and growth: evidence from OECD countries," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(2), pages 171-190, November.
  3. Stefan Mittnik & Thorsten Neumann, 2003. "Time-Series Evidence on the Nonlinearity Hypothesis for Public Spending," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 41(4), pages 565-573, October.
  4. António Afonso & Ludger Schuknecht & Vito Tanzi, 2005. "Public sector efficiency: An international comparison," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 123(3), pages 321-347, June.
  5. 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.
  6. Jonathan Temple, 1999. "The New Growth Evidence," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 112-156, March.
  7. Fölster, Stefan & Henrekson, Magnus, 1998. "Growth Effects of Government Expenditure and Taxation in Rich Countries," Working Paper Series 503, Research Institute of Industrial Economics, revised 20 Jun 2000.
  8. Salmon, Pierre, 1987. "Decentralisation as an Incentive Scheme," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 3(2), pages 24-43, Summer.
  9. Anthony Downs, 1957. "An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65, pages 135.
  10. Philip R. Gerson, 1998. "The Impact of Fiscal Policy Variableson Output Growth," IMF Working Papers 98/1, International Monetary Fund.
  11. Nijkamp, Peter & Poot, Jacques, 2004. "Meta-analysis of the effect of fiscal policies on long-run growth," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 91-124, March.
  12. Andrea Bassanini & Stefano Scarpetta, 2001. "The Driving Forces of Economic Growth: Panel Data Evidence for the OECD Countries," OECD Economic Studies, OECD Publishing, vol. 2001(2), pages 9-56.
  13. Michael Bleaney & Norman Gemmell & Richard Kneller, 2001. "Testing the endogenous growth model: public expenditure, taxation, and growth over the long run," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 34(1), pages 36-57, February.
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