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Federal, State, and Local Governments: Evaluating their Separate Roles in US Growth

  • Higgins, Matthew
  • Young, Andrew
  • Levy, Daniel

We use US county level data (3,058 observations) from 1970 to 1998 to explore the relationship between economic growth and the extent of government employment at three levels: federal, state and local. We find that increases in federal, state and local government employments are all negatively associated with economic growth. We find no evidence that government is more efficient at lower levels. While we cannot separate out the productive and redistributive services of government, we document that the county-level income distribution became slightly more unequal from 1970 to 1998. For those who justify government activities in terms of equity concerns – perhaps even trading off economic growth for equity – the burden falls on them to show that the income distribution would have widened more in the absence of government activities. We conclude that a release of government-employed labor inputs to the private sector would be growth-enhancing.

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File URL: http://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/13094/1/MPRA_paper_13094.pdf
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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 13094.

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Date of creation: 29 Jan 2009
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:13094
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  1. Evans, Paul & Karras, Georgios, 1994. "Are Government Activities Productive? Evidence from a Panel of U.S. States," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 76(1), pages 1-11, February.
  2. Davoodi, Hamid & Zou, Heng-fu, 1998. "Fiscal Decentralization and Economic Growth: A Cross-Country Study," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 244-257, March.
  3. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock, 1994. "Instrumental Variables Regression with Weak Instruments," NBER Technical Working Papers 0151, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Matthew Higgins & Daniel Levy & Andrew Young, 2005. "Growth and Convergence across the U.S: Evidence from County-Level Data," Macroeconomics 0509023, EconWPA.
  5. Jan K. Brueckner, 2005. "Fiscal Federalism and Economic Growth," CESifo Working Paper Series 1601, CESifo Group Munich.
  6. Christopher F Baum & Mark E. Schaffer & Steven Stillman, 2002. "Instrumental variables and GMM: Estimation and testing," United Kingdom Stata Users' Group Meetings 2003 02, Stata Users Group.
  7. John Shea, 1997. "Instrument Relevance in Multivariate Linear Models: A Simple Measure," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 79(2), pages 348-352, May.
  8. James H. Stock & Motohiro Yogo, 2002. "Testing for Weak Instruments in Linear IV Regression," NBER Technical Working Papers 0284, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Xavier X. Sala-i-Martin, 1997. "I Just Ran Four Million Regressions," NBER Working Papers 6252, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Shioji, Etsuro, 2001. " Public Capital and Economic Growth: A Convergence Approach," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 6(3), pages 205-27, September.
  11. Tao Zhang & Heng-fu Zou, 2001. "Fiscal decentralization, public spending, and economic growth in China," CEMA Working Papers 58, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
  12. Martinez-Vazquez, Jorge & McNab, Robert M., 2003. "Fiscal Decentralization and Economic Growth," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 31(9), pages 1597-1616, September.
  13. Xie, Danyang & Zou, Heng-fu & Davoodi, Hamid, 1999. "Fiscal Decentralization and Economic Growth in the United States," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(2), pages 228-239, March.
  14. Ohlsson, H. & Agell, J. & Lindh, T., 1995. "Growth and the Public Sector: A Critical Review Essay," Papers 1995-09, Uppsala - Working Paper Series.
  15. Matthew J. Higgins & Daniel Levy & Andrew T. Young, 2007. "Robust Correlates of County-level Growth in the U.S," Emory Economics 0708, Department of Economics, Emory University (Atlanta).
  16. Stansel, Dean, 2005. "Local decentralization and local economic growth: A cross-sectional examination of US metropolitan areas," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 55-72, January.
  17. Jordan Rappaport, 1999. "Local Growth Empirics," CID Working Papers 23, Center for International Development at Harvard University.
  18. Jeffrey M Wooldridge, 2010. "Econometric Analysis of Cross Section and Panel Data," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 2, volume 1, number 0262232588, June.
  19. David Aschauer, 1988. "Is public expenditure productive?," Staff Memoranda 88-7, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
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  21. Jordan M. Rappaport, 2000. "How Does Labor Mobility Affect Income Convergence?," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 0124, Econometric Society.
  22. Holtz-Eakin, Douglas, 1994. "Public-Sector Capital and the Productivity Puzzle," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 76(1), pages 12-21, February.
  23. Wallace E. Oates, 1999. "An Essay on Fiscal Federalism," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(3), pages 1120-1149, September.
  24. Garcia-Mila, Teresa & McGuire, Therese J & Porter, Robert H, 1996. "The Effect of Public Capital in State-Level Production Functions Reconsidered," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(1), pages 177-80, February.
  25. Josep Lluís Carrion-i-Silvestre & Marta Espasa & Toni Mora, 2008. "Fiscal Decentralization and Economic Growth in Spain," Public Finance Review, , vol. 36(2), pages 194-218, March.
  26. Atkinson, Anthony B., 1995. "The Welfare State and Economic Performance," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 48(2), pages 171-98, June.
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  28. Lynde, Catherine & Richmond, J, 1993. "Public Capital and Total Factor Productivity," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 34(2), pages 401-14, May.
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  30. Naoko C. Kojo & Arye L. Hillman & Emanuele Baldacci, 2003. "Growth, Governance, and Fiscal Policy Transmission Channels in Low-Income Countries," IMF Working Papers 03/237, International Monetary Fund.
  31. Caselli, Francesco & Esquivel, Gerardo & Lefort, Fernando, 1996. " Reopening the Convergence Debate: A New Look at Cross-Country Growth Empirics," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 1(3), pages 363-89, September.
  32. Rappaport, Jordan & Sachs, Jeffrey D, 2003. " The United States as a Coastal Nation," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 8(1), pages 5-46, March.
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