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Social Capital, Government Expenditures, and Growth

  • Ugo Troiano

    (Harvard University)

  • Giacomo Ponzetto

    (CREI and Universitat Pompeu Fabra)

Countries with greater social capital have higher economic growth. We show that social capital is also highly positively correlated across countries with government expenditure on education. We develop an infinite-horizon model of public spending and endogenous stochastic growth that explains both facts through frictions in political agency when voters have imperfect information. In our model, the government provides services that yield immediate utility, and investment that raises future productivity. Voters are more likely to observe public services, so politicians have electoral incentives to under-provide public investment. Social capital increases voters' awareness of all government activity. As a consequence, both politicians' incentives and their selection improve. In the dynamic equilibrium, both the amount and the efficiency of public investment increase, permanently raising the growth rate.

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Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2012 Meeting Papers with number 1048.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:red:sed012:1048
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  1. Alessandra Bonfiglioli & Gino Gancia, 2010. "The Political Cost of Reforms," Working Papers 507, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  2. James M. Snyder, Jr. & David Strömberg, 2008. "Press Coverage and Political Accountability," NBER Working Papers 13878, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Nannicini, Tommaso & Stella, Andrea & Tabellini, Guido & Troiano, Ugo, 2010. "Social Capital and Political Accountability," CEPR Discussion Papers 7782, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Edward L. Glaeser & Giacomo A. M. Ponzetto & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2004. "Strategic Extremism: Why Republicans and Democrats Divide on Religious Values," NBER Working Papers 10835, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Besley, Timothy J. & Burgess, Robin, 2001. "The Political Economy of Government Responsiveness: Theory and Evidence from India," CEPR Discussion Papers 2721, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Robert J. Barro, 1988. "Government Spending in a Simple Model of Endogenous Growth," NBER Working Papers 2588, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Harrington, Joseph E, Jr, 1993. "Economic Policy, Economic Performance, and Elections," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(1), pages 27-42, March.
  8. Claudio Ferraz & Frederico Finan, 2008. "Exposing Corrupt Politicians: The Effects of Brazil's Publicly Released Audits on Electoral Outcomes," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(2), pages 703-745, 05.
  9. Assar Lindbeck & Jörgen Weibull, 1987. "Balanced-budget redistribution as the outcome of political competition," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 52(3), pages 273-297, January.
  10. Thomas Eisensee & David Strömberg, 2007. "News Droughts, News Floods, and U.S. Disaster Relief," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(2), pages 693-728, 05.
  11. Ponzetto, Giacomo AM, 2011. "Heterogeneous Information and Trade Policy," CEPR Discussion Papers 8726, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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