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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. 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.
    2. Giuranno, Michele G. & Nocco, Antonella, 2020. "Trade tariff, wage gap and public spending," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 167-179.
    3. Abdulaleem Isiaka & Alexander Mihailov & Giovanni Razzi, 2022. "Distributional Effects of Public Spending and Tax Shocks in Middle-Income Countries: A Panel VAR Approach," Economics Discussion Papers em-dp2022-09, Department of Economics, University of Reading.
    4. Martin Guzi & Martin Kahanec & Magdalena M. Ulceluse, 2021. "Europe's migration experience and its effects on economic inequality," Discussion Papers 60, Central European Labour Studies Institute (CELSI).
    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.
    7. Stojanovikj, Martin, 2022. "Government size, inflation targeting and business cycle volatility," Economic Analysis and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 1-12.
    8. Akisik, Orhan & Gal, Graham, 2023. "IFRS, financial development and income inequality: An empirical study using mediation analysis," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 47(2).
    9. Durongkaveroj, Wannaphong, 2022. "Structural Transformation, Income Inequality and Government Expenditure: Evidence from International Panel Data," Jurnal Ekonomi Malaysia, Faculty of Economics and Business, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, vol. 56(3), pages 29-44.

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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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