IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Policy distortions, size of government, and growth

  • Easterly, William R.

This paper analyzes the structural relationship between policies that distort resource allocation and long-term growth. It briefly reviews the Solow model in which steady-state growth depends only on exogenous technological change, but finds it unsatisfactory as a model of long-term growth. The author proposes an increasing-returns model in the spirit of the new literature on economic growth. With increasing returns, endogenous economic variables - and thus policy - will affect the steady-state rate of growth. This model gives output as a linear function of total capital, but a decreasing function of each of two types of capital. The distortion is defined as a policy intervention that increases the cost of using one of the types of capita. The results suggest that simple linear relationships between distortions and growth, or between size of government and growth, are untenable. Easterly's model shows that reducing the distortions does not have an equal effect on growth in all circumstances. The effect depends on how flexible the economy is, how large the share of the factor being penalized in production is, and how high the distortions are initially. Small changes in either very low or very high levels of initial distortions have a minimal effect on growth.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 344.

in new window

Date of creation: 31 Dec 1989
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:344
Contact details of provider: Postal:
1818 H Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20433

Phone: (202) 477-1234
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
  2. Robert J. Barro, 1989. "A Cross-Country Study of Growth, Saving, and Government," NBER Working Papers 2855, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Baumol, William J, 1986. "Productivity Growth, Convergence, and Welfare: What the Long-run Data Show," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(5), pages 1072-85, December.
  4. Findlay, Ronald, 1989. "Is the new political economy relevant to developing countries ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 292, The World Bank.
  5. Romer, Paul M, 1986. "Increasing Returns and Long-run Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(5), pages 1002-37, October.
  6. Robert M. Solow, 1956. "A Contribution to the Theory of Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(1), pages 65-94.
  7. Easterly, William R. & Wetzel, Deborah L., 1989. "Policy determinants of growth : survey of theory and evidence," Policy Research Working Paper Series 343, The World Bank.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:344. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Roula I. Yazigi)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.