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How can public spending help you grow? an empirical analysis for developing countries


  • Bayraktar, Nihal
  • Moreno-Dodson, Blanca


Although many studies indicate that both the level and composition of public spending are significant for economic growth, the results in the empirical literature are still mixed. This paper studies the importance of country sample selection and expenditure classification in explaining these conflicting results. It investigates a set of fast-growing countries versus a mix of countries with different growth patterns. The regression specifications include different components of public expenditure and total fiscal revenues, always considering the overall government budget constraint. Total public spending is first disaggregated using a definition that classifies public spending as productive versus unproductive components, an a priori criterion that is based on the expected impact of public spending items on the private sector production function. After empirically confirming the validity of this definition in the panel analysis, the authors suggest and test an alternative definition of"core"public spending that may be more appropriate for developing countries. The empirical analysis shows that the link between growth and public spending, especially the productive and"core"components, is strong only for the fast-growing group. In addition, macroeconomic stability, openness, and private sector investment are significant in the fast-growing group, which points to the existence of an economic policy environment more conducive to growth in the first group of countries. The authors conclude that public spending can be a significant determinant of growth for countries that are capable of using funds for productive purposes.

Suggested Citation

  • Bayraktar, Nihal & Moreno-Dodson, Blanca, 2010. "How can public spending help you grow? an empirical analysis for developing countries," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5367, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:5367

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sugata Ghosh & Andros Gregoriou, 2008. "The composition of government spending and growth: is current or capital spending better?," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(3), pages 484-516, July.
    2. Folster, Stefan & Henrekson, Magnus, 2001. "Growth effects of government expenditure and taxation in rich countries," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(8), pages 1501-1520, August.
    3. Glomm, Gerhard & Ravikumar, B., 1997. "Productive government expenditures and long-run growth," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 183-204, January.
    4. Benedict J. Clements & Sanjeev Gupta & Emanuele Baldacci & Carlos Mulas-Granados, 2002. "Expenditure Composition, Fiscal Adjustment, and Growth in Low-Income Countries," IMF Working Papers 02/77, International Monetary Fund.
    5. Benos, Nikos, 2009. "Fiscal policy and economic growth: empirical evidence from EU countries," MPRA Paper 19174, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Alex Segura-Ubiergo & Alejandro Simone & Sanjeev Gupta & Qiang Cui, 2010. "New Evidence on Fiscal Adjustment and Growth in Transition Economies," Comparative Economic Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Association for Comparative Economic Studies, vol. 52(1), pages 18-37, March.
    7. Philip Grossman, 1988. "Government and economic growth: A non-linear relationship," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 56(2), pages 193-200, February.
    8. Kneller, Richard & Bleaney, Michael F. & Gemmell, Norman, 1999. "Fiscal policy and growth: evidence from OECD countries," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(2), pages 171-190, November.
    9. Rogers, Mark Llewellyn, 2008. "Directly unproductive schooling: How country characteristics affect the impact of schooling on growth," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 356-385, February.
    10. James Ang, 2009. "Do public investment and FDI crowd in or crowd out private domestic investment in Malaysia?," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 41(7), pages 913-919.
    11. Michael Bleaney & Norman Gemmell & Richard Kneller, 2001. "Testing the endogenous growth model: public expenditure, taxation, and growth over the long run," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 34(1), pages 36-57, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Blanca Moreno-Dodson & Nihal Bayraktar, 2011. "How Public Spending Can Help You Grow : An Empirical Analysis for Developing Countries," World Bank Other Operational Studies 10107, The World Bank.
    2. Goulas, Eleftherios & Zervoyianni, Athina, 2013. "Growth, deficits and uncertainty: Theoretical aspects and empirical evidence from a panel of 27 countries," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 53(4), pages 380-392.
    3. Jean-Pierre Chauffour, 2011. "Freedom, Entitlement, and the Path to Development," World Bank Other Operational Studies 10088, The World Bank.
    4. Goulas, Eleftherios & Zervoyianni, Athina, 2015. "Economic growth and crime: Is there an asymmetric relationship?," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 286-295.
    5. Hans Pitlik & Margit Schratzenstaller, 2011. "Growth Implications of Structure and Size of Public Sectors," WIFO Working Papers 404, WIFO.


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