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Do Higher Public Debt Levels Reduce Economic Growth?

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Abstract

While the effect of higher public debt levels on economic growth has received much attention, the literature partly points to contradictory results. This paper applies meta-regression methods to 826 estimates from 48 primary studies. The unweighted mean of the reported results suggests a 10 percentage points increase in public-debt-to-GDP is associated with a decline in annual growth rates by 0.14 percentage points, with a 95% confidence interval from 0.10 to 0.18 percentage points. However, we cannot reject a zero effect after correcting for publication bias. Furthermore, the meta-regression analysis shows that tackling endogeneity between public debt and growth makes estimates lean less towards the negative side. In testing for non-linear effects, our results do not point to a universal public-debt-to-GDP threshold beyond which growth slows threshold estimates are sensitive to data and econometric choices. These findings imply a lack of evidence of a consistently negative growth effect of higher public-debt-to-GDP.

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  • Philipp Heimberger, 2021. "Do Higher Public Debt Levels Reduce Economic Growth?," wiiw Working Papers 211, The Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies, wiiw.
  • Handle: RePEc:wii:wpaper:211
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. Zigraiova, Diana & Havranek, Tomas & Irsova, Zuzana & Novak, Jiri, 2021. "How puzzling is the forward premium puzzle? A meta-analysis," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 134(C).
    3. Reinhard Neck & Gottfried Haber & Andrea Klinglmair, 2015. "Austrian Public Debt Growth: A Public Choice Perspective," International Advances in Economic Research, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 21(3), pages 249-260, August.
    4. repec:kap:iaecre:v:21:y:2015:i:3:p:249-260 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Teles, Vladimir K. & Cesar Mussolini, Caio, 2014. "Public debt and the limits of fiscal policy to increase economic growth," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 1-15.
    6. Yang, Lixiong & Su, Jen-Je, 2018. "Debt and growth: Is there a constant tipping point?," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 133-143.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Public debt; economic growth; meta-analysis;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • F34 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Lending and Debt Problems
    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence

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