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Fiscal policy during business cycles in developing countries: The case of Africa


  • Leibfritz, Willi
  • Rottmann, Horst


Fiscal positions of African countries have improved significantly during the past decade. Higher economic growth, better terms of trade, improved donor support notably through debt relief and better control of expenditure contributed to this improvement. But at the same time government revenue and expenditure have become more volatile. The paper explores behaviour of government spending during business cycles. It finds that spending has on average been since 1980 broadly a-cyclical thus neither significantly aggravated nor mitigated cyclical fluctuations. But when comparing the two sub-periods before and after 2000 we find that before 2000 spending was on average (moderately) procyclical. While from 1980 to 2000 in almost two thirds of the 46 countries, which we examined, spending was procyclical this share declined to less than 40 percent after 2000 and in the majority of countries spending was a-cyclical or countercyclical. As more countries escaped from procyclicality Africa's resilience against external shocks improved. This also helped to better cope with the Great Recession of 2009.

Suggested Citation

  • Leibfritz, Willi & Rottmann, Horst, 2013. "Fiscal policy during business cycles in developing countries: The case of Africa," Weidener Diskussionspapiere 36, University of Applied Sciences Amberg-Weiden (OTH).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:hawdps:36

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Graciela L. Kaminsky & Carmen M. Reinhart & Carlos A. VĂ©gh, 2005. "When It Rains, It Pours: Procyclical Capital Flows and Macroeconomic Policies," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2004, Volume 19, pages 11-82 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Elva Bova & Nathalie Carcenac & Martine Guerguil, 2014. "Fiscal Rules and the Procyclicality of Fiscal Policy in the Developing World," IMF Working Papers 14/122, International Monetary Fund.
    3. Flaig Gebhard, 2015. "Why We Should Use High Values for the Smoothing Parameter of the Hodrick-Prescott Filter," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 235(6), pages 518-538, December.
    4. 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.
    5. Morten O. Ravn & Harald Uhlig, 2002. "On adjusting the Hodrick-Prescott filter for the frequency of observations," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(2), pages 371-375.
    6. Carmignani, Fabrizio, 2010. "Cyclical fiscal policy in Africa," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 254-267, March.
    7. Willi Leibfritz & Gebhard Flaig, 2013. "Economic Growth in Africa: Comparing Recent Improvements with the "lost 1980s and early 1990s" and Estimating New Growth Trends," CESifo Working Paper Series 4215, CESifo Group Munich.
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    More about this item


    developing countries; Africa; fiscal policy; business cycles;

    JEL classification:

    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O23 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy - - - Fiscal and Monetary Policy in Development
    • H3 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents
    • H5 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies

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