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Income Inequality and the Size of Government: A Causal Analysis

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  • Guzi, Martin
  • Kahanec, Martin

Abstract

Expansion of the public sector and redistributive policies may reduce income inequality, but formal tests suffer from the problem of endogeneity of government size with respect to the distribution of income. Studying 30 European countries over the period 2004-2015, we apply instrumental variable estimation techniques to identify a causal relationship between income inequality and government size, measured as the government expenditure share in GDP. Using a novel instrument – the number of political parties in the ruling coalition – we find that accounting for the possible endogeneity of government size increases the magnitude of the estimated negative effects. Our findings thus suggest that much of the literature underestimates the true role of the government in attenuating income inequality. The estimated relationship between income inequality and government size persists in a series of robustness checks.

Suggested Citation

  • Guzi, Martin & Kahanec, Martin, 2019. "Income Inequality and the Size of Government: A Causal Analysis," GLO Discussion Paper Series 381, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:glodps:381
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    Cited by:

    1. Giuranno, Michele G. & Nocco, Antonella, 2020. "Trade tariff, wage gap and public spending," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 167-179.
    2. Sanjeev Gupta & João Tovar Jalles, 2020. "Tax Revenue Reforms and Income Distribution in Developing Countries," Working Papers REM 2020/0137, ISEG - Lisbon School of Economics and Management, REM, Universidade de Lisboa.
    3. Krčál, Ondřej & Peer, Stefanie & Staněk, Rostislav & Karlínová, Bára, 2019. "Real consequences matter: Why hypothetical biases in the valuation of time persist even in controlled lab experiments," Economics of Transportation, Elsevier, vol. 20(C).
    4. Martin Guzi & Martin Kahanec & Magdalena M. Ulceluse, 2021. "Europe's migration experience and its effects on economic inequality," MUNI ECON Working Papers 2021-05, Masaryk University.
    5. Gupta, Sanjeev & Jalles, João Tovar, 2022. "Do tax reforms affect income distribution? Evidence from developing countries," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 110(C).
    6. Juin-Jen Chang & Jang-Ting Guo & Wei-Neng Wang, 2021. "On Government Spending and Income Inequality under Monopolistic Competition," Working Papers 202103, University of California at Riverside, Department of Economics.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    inequality; redistribution; government size; instrumental variable; Gini index;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D60 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - General
    • H20 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - General

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