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Are Government Spending Multipliers State Dependent? Evidence from U.S. and Canadian Historical Data


  • Valerie Ramey

    (University of California, San Diego)

  • Sarah Zubairy

    (Bank of Canada)

  • Michael Owyang

    (Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis)


A key question that has arisen during recent debates is whether government spending multipliers are larger during times when resources are idle. This paper seeks to shed light on this question by analyzing new quarterly historical data covering multiple large wars and depressions in the U.S. and Canada. Using several methods for estimating multipliers, we find no evidence that multipliers are greater during periods of high unemployment in the U.S. In every case, they are below unity. We do find evidence of higher multipliers during periods of slack in Canada, with some multipliers above unity.

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  • Valerie Ramey & Sarah Zubairy & Michael Owyang, 2013. "Are Government Spending Multipliers State Dependent? Evidence from U.S. and Canadian Historical Data," 2013 Meeting Papers 290, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed013:290

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    1. repec:nbr:nberch:13342 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Valerie A. Ramey, 2011. "Identifying Government Spending Shocks: It's all in the Timing," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(1), pages 1-50.
    3. Alan J. Auerbach & Yuriy Gorodnichenko, 2012. "Measuring the Output Responses to Fiscal Policy," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 4(2), pages 1-27, May.
    4. Robert E. Hall, 2009. "By How Much Does GDP Rise If the Government Buys More Output?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 40(2 (Fall)), pages 183-249.
    5. Alan J. Auerbach & Yuriy Gorodnichenko, 2012. "Fiscal Multipliers in Recession and Expansion," NBER Chapters,in: Fiscal Policy after the Financial Crisis, pages 63-98 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Belke Ansgar & Kronen Dominik & Osowski Thomas, 2015. "Planned Fiscal Consolidations and Growth Forecast Errors – New Panel Evidence on Fiscal Multipliers," Review of Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 66(1), pages 47-70, April.

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