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Public Debt and Growth : An Assessment of Key Findings on Causality and Thresholds

Author

Listed:
  • Michael Ash

    () (Department of Economics and School of Public Policy, University of Massachusetts Amherst)

  • Deepankar Basu

    () (Department of Economics, University of Massachusetts, Amherst)

  • Arindrajit Dube

    () (Department of Economics, University of Massachusetts, Amherst)

Abstract

We provide a comprehensive assessment of the relationship between public debt and GDP growth in the postwar advanced economies. We use the timing of changes in public debt and growth to account for endogeneity, and find little evidence of a negative relationship. Semi-parametric estimates do not indicate any threshold effects. Finally, we reconcile our results with four recent, influential papers that found a substantial negative relationship, especially when public debt exceeds 90 percent of GDP. These earlier results appear to derive mostly from peculiar parametric specifications of nonlinearities, or use of small samples which amplify the influence of outliers.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael Ash & Deepankar Basu & Arindrajit Dube, 2017. "Public Debt and Growth : An Assessment of Key Findings on Causality and Thresholds," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2017-10, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ums:papers:2017-10
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    File URL: http://www.umass.edu/economics/publications/2017-10.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Thomas Herndon & Michael Ash & Robert Pollin, 2014. "Does high public debt consistently stifle economic growth? A critique of Reinhart and Rogoff," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(2), pages 257-279.
    2. Panizza, Ugo & Presbitero, Andrea F., 2014. "Public debt and economic growth: Is there a causal effect?," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 21-41.
    3. Jaejoon Woo & Manmohan S. Kumar, 2015. "Public Debt and Growth," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 82(328), pages 705-739, October.
    4. John DiNardo & Justin L. Tobias, 2001. "Nonparametric Density and Regression Estimation," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(4), pages 11-28, Fall.
    5. Jeffrey M Wooldridge, 2010. "Econometric Analysis of Cross Section and Panel Data," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 2, volume 1, number 0262232588.
    6. Checherita-Westphal, Cristina & Rother, Philipp, 2012. "The impact of high government debt on economic growth and its channels: An empirical investigation for the euro area," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(7), pages 1392-1405.
    7. N. Gregory Mankiw & David Romer & David N. Weil, 1992. "A Contribution to the Empirics of Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(2), pages 407-437.
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    Cited by:

    1. Antonio Fatás & Atish R. Ghosh & Ugo Panizza & Andrea F Presbitero, 2019. "The Motives to Borrow," IMF Working Papers 19/101, International Monetary Fund.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    public debt; growth;

    JEL classification:

    • E00 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General - - - General
    • E6 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook
    • H6 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt
    • C82 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Macroeconomic Data; Data Access

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