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Taxation and Public Spending Efficiency: An International Comparison


  • António Afonso
  • João Tovar Jalles
  • Ana Venâncio


This paper evaluates the relevance of the taxation for public spending efficiency in a sample of OECD economies in the period 2003-2017. First, we compute the data envelopment analysis (DEA) scores and the Malmquist productivity index to measure the change in total factor productivity, the change in efficiency and the change in technology. Second, we explain these newly computed public efficiency scores with tax structures using a reduced-form panel data regression specification. Looking at the period between 2007 and 2017, our main findings are as follows: inputs could be theoretically lower by approximately 32-34%; the Malmquist indices show an overall decrease in technology and in TFP. Crucial for policymaking, we find that expenditure efficiency is negatively associated with taxation, more specifically direct and indirect taxes negatively affect government efficiency performance, and the same is true for social security contributions.

Suggested Citation

  • António Afonso & João Tovar Jalles & Ana Venâncio, 2019. "Taxation and Public Spending Efficiency: An International Comparison," Working Papers REM 2019/80, ISEG - Lisbon School of Economics and Management, REM, Universidade de Lisboa.
  • Handle: RePEc:ise:remwps:wp0802019

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Richard Dutu & Patrizio Sicari, 2016. "Public Spending Efficiency in the OECD: Benchmarking Health Care, Education and General Administration," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 1278, OECD Publishing.
    2. Antonis Adam & Manthos Delis & Pantelis Kammas, 2011. "Public sector efficiency: leveling the playing field between OECD countries," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 146(1), pages 163-183, January.
    3. António Afonso, & Mina Kazemi, 2016. "Assessing Public Spending Efficiency in 20 OECD Countries," Working Papers Department of Economics 2016/12, ISEG - Lisbon School of Economics and Management, Department of Economics, Universidade de Lisboa.
    4. Oleg Badunenko & Harald Tauchmann, 2019. "Simar and Wilson two-stage efficiency analysis for Stata," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 19(4), pages 950-988, December.
    5. Simar, Leopold & Wilson, Paul W., 2007. "Estimation and inference in two-stage, semi-parametric models of production processes," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 136(1), pages 31-64, January.
    6. Afonso, Antonio & St. Aubyn, Miguel, 2006. "Cross-country efficiency of secondary education provision: A semi-parametric analysis with non-discretionary inputs," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 476-491, May.
    7. Maria Alessandra Antonelli & Valeria De Bonis, 2019. "The efficiency of social public expenditure in European countries: a two-stage analysis," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 51(1), pages 47-60, January.
    8. Sok-Gee Chan & Zulkufly Ramly & Mohd Zaini Abd Karim, 2017. "Government Spending Efficiency on Economic Growth: Roles of Value-added Tax," Global Economic Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 46(2), pages 162-188, April.
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    More about this item


    government spending efficiency; public sector performance; tax structure; data envelopment analysis (DEA); Malmquist indices; non-parametric estimation; panel data; OECD;

    JEL classification:

    • C14 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Semiparametric and Nonparametric Methods: General
    • C23 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models
    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H50 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - General

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