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Why Do More Open Economies Have Bigger Governments?

  • Dani Rodrik

This paper demonstrates that there is a robust empirical association between the extent to which an economy is exposed to trade and the size of its government sector. This association holds for a large cross-section of countries, in low- as well as high-income samples, and is robust to the inclusion of a wide range of controls. The explanation appears to be that government consumption plays a risk-reducing role in economies exposed to a significant amount of external risk. When openness is interacted with explicit measures of external risk, such as terms-of-trade uncertainty and product concentration of exports, it is the interaction terms that enter significantly, and the openness term loses its significance (or turns negative). The paper also demonstrates that government consumption is the majority of countries.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w5537.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5537.

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Date of creation: Apr 1996
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Journal of Political Economy (October 1998).
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5537
Note: ITI IFM PE
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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Web page: http://www.nber.org
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  1. Joel Slemrod, 1995. "Involvement, Prosperity, and Economic Growth?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 26(2), pages 373-431.
  2. J. P. Neary (ed.), 1995. "International Trade," Books, Edward Elgar, volume 0, number 575, March.
  3. Jeffrey A. Frankel & David Romer, 1996. "Trade and Growth: An Empirical Investigation," NBER Working Papers 5476, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Bates, Robert H. & Brock, Philip & Tiefenthaler, Jill, 1991. "Risk and trade regimes: another exploration," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 45(01), pages 1-18, December.
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