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The Composition of Government Expenditure in an Overlapping Generations Model

  • John Creedy
  • Shuyun May Li
  • Solmaz Moslehi

This paper examines the choice of government expenditure on public goods and transfer payments (in the form of pension) under majority voting in an overlapping generations model, in which government expenditure is tax-?nanced on a pay-as-you-go (PAYG) basis. The condition required for majority support of the social contract involved in the PAYG scheme is established and shown to be independent of gov- ernment expenditure, so that the choice of expenditure composition can be made conditional on acceptance of this social contract. The model yields a closed-form solu-tion for the majority choice of the ratio of transfer payment to public goods, which depends negatively on the ratio of median to mean income, given parameters regarding preferences, tax, growth and interest rates. Informed by this result, a dataset for demo-cratic countries is examined, suggesting that income inequalities play a minor role in accounting for the substantial variations in the compostion of government expenditure across democratic countries, while di¤erent preferences for public goods resulting from cultural di¤erences may be an important determinant. Finally an alternative decision mechanism is also considered, in which a utilitarian government chooses expenditures to maximize a social welfare function. The solution is found to take a similar form to that of the majority voting context, except that a welfare-weighted average income replaces the median income.

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Paper provided by The University of Melbourne in its series Department of Economics - Working Papers Series with number 1064.

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Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mlb:wpaper:1064
Contact details of provider: Postal: Department of Economics, The University of Melbourne, 4th Floor, FBE Building, Level 4, 111 Barry Street. Victoria, 3010, Australia
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Web page: http://www.economics.unimelb.edu.au
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  1. Tabellini, Guido & Alesina, Alberto, 1990. "Voting on the Budget Deficit," Scholarly Articles 4553030, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. Hassler, John & Mora, Jose & Storesletten, Kjetil & Zilibotti, Fabrizio, 2002. "The Survival of the Welfare State," Seminar Papers 704, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
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  6. Creedy, John & Moslehi, Solmaz, 2009. "Modelling the composition of government expenditure in democracies," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 42-55, March.
  7. Creedy, J & Van de Ven, J, 1997. "Retirement Incomes : Private Savings versus Social Transfers," Department of Economics - Working Papers Series 569, The University of Melbourne.
  8. Marina Azzimonti & Eva de Francisco & Per Krusell, 2006. "Median-voter Equilibria in the Neoclassical Growth Model under Aggregation," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 108(4), pages 587-606, December.
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  11. 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.
  12. P R Agénor, 2005. "Fiscal Policy and Endogenous Growth with Public Infrastructure," Centre for Growth and Business Cycle Research Discussion Paper Series 59, Economics, The Univeristy of Manchester.
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  15. Borge, Lars-Erik & Rattso, J.Jorn, 2004. "Income distribution and tax structure: Empirical test of the Meltzer-Richard hypothesis," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 48(4), pages 805-826, August.
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  23. John Creedy & Solmaz Moslehi, 2007. "The Optimal Composition of Government Expenditure," Department of Economics - Working Papers Series 1008, The University of Melbourne.
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