Friday, May 25, 2012

Faster GDP Growth In Countries With Smaller Government Share

From The Wall Street Journal, "To Get Growth, Shrink the State: The best stimulus is a smaller government." by Tim Knox and Ryan Bourne:
For all those who wish to see a return to enduring prosperity, new research published today by the Centre for Policy Studies suggests a simple, specific destination. We find that the size of government as a proportion of GDP is a major influence, controlling for other factors, on a country's rate of economic growth. If you want growth, scaling back the state should be an aim whether you have a deficit or not.

We examined the 28 OECD countries defined as "advanced" by the IMF between 1965 and 2010. Using regression analysis to control for the growth rates of the factors of production (physical capital, labor and human capital) and initial GDP, our results suggest that reducing the ratio of taxes or spending to GDP by five percentage points increases the growth rate of GDP per capita by 0.5 to 0.6 percentage points per year.

A broader sample of all "advanced" countries (again, as defined by the IMF) over the past 10 years seems to support these findings. Over this period, countries whose governments tax and spend less than 40% of GDP have grown more quickly than the big-government countries.
Our findings add to the already significant body of economic literature that suggests that small-government countries grow more quickly after accounting for other characteristics. It also shows that there appears to be little correlation between government size as a proportion of GDP and some key outcomes in health and education. The implication is that in the medium term, constraining the size of the state is good for growth, and can also provide social outcomes that are at least as good as those in big-government countries. [Emphasis Added.]

Source: The Wall Street Journal
The Center For Policy Study report in PDF is available free for download.

An online summary of the study is also available to read.

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