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How large is the government spending multiplier ? evidence from World Bank lending

  • Kraay, Aart

This paper proposes a novel method of isolating fluctuations in public spending that are likely to be uncorrelated with contemporaneous macroeconomic shocks and can be used to estimate government spending multipliers. The approach relies on two features unique to many low-income countries: (1) borrowing from the World Bank finances a substantial fraction of public spending, and (2) actual spending on World Bank-financed projects is typically spread out over several years following the original approval of the project. These two features imply that fluctuations in spending on World Bank projects in a given year are in large part determined by fluctuations in project approval decisions made in previous years, and so are unlikely to be correlated with shocks to output in the current year. World Bank project-level disbursement data are used to isolate the component of public spending associated with project approvals from previous years, which in turn can be used to estimate government spending multipliers, in a sample of 29 aid-dependent low-income countries. The estimated multipliers are small, reasonably precisely estimated, and rarely significantly different from zero.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 5500.

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Date of creation: 01 Dec 2010
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:5500
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  1. Eric M. Leeper, 2010. "Monetary science, fiscal alchemy," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 361-434.
  2. Eric Leeper & Todd B. Walker & Susan Shu-Chun Yang, 2009. "Government Investment And Fiscal Stimulus In The Short And Long Runs," Caepr Working Papers 2009-011, Center for Applied Economics and Policy Research, Economics Department, Indiana University Bloomington.
  3. Ethan Ilzetzki & Carlos A. Vegh, 2008. "Procyclical Fiscal Policy in Developing Countries: Truth or Fiction?," NBER Working Papers 14191, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Ilzetzki, Ethan & Mendoza, Enrique G. & Végh, Carlos A., 2013. "How big (small?) are fiscal multipliers?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(2), pages 239-254.
  5. Lauren Cohen & Joshua D. Coval & Christopher Malloy, 2010. "Do Powerful Politicians Cause Corporate Downsizing?," NBER Working Papers 15839, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Susan S. Yang & Todd B. Walker & Eric M. Leeper, 2010. "Government Investment and Fiscal Stimulus," IMF Working Papers 10/229, International Monetary Fund.
  7. Price V. Fishback & Valentina Kachanovskaya, 2010. "In Search of the Multiplier for Federal Spending in the States During the Great Depression," NBER Working Papers 16561, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Valerie A. Ramey, 2009. "Identifying Government Spending Shocks: It's All in the Timing," NBER Working Papers 15464, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Mertens, Karel & Ravn, Morten O, 2009. "Measuring the Impact of Fiscal Policy in the Face of Anticipation: A Structural VAR Approach," CEPR Discussion Papers 7423, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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