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Size of government and economic growth: A nonlinear analysis

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Author(s): Herath Shanaka

Journal: Economic Annals
ISSN 0013-3264

Volume: 57;
Issue: 194;
Start page: 7;
Date: 2012;
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Keywords: government expenditure | economic growth | Sri Lanka | polynomial regression | Armey curve

ABSTRACT
The new growth theory establishes, among other things, that government expenditure can manipulate the economic growth of a country. This study attempts to explain whether government expenditure increases or decreases economic growth in the context of Sri Lanka. Results obtained employing a productive output series and applying an analytical framework based on second degree polynomial regression are generally consistent with previous findings: government expenditure and economic growth are positively correlated; excessive government expenditure is negatively correlated with economic growth; and investment promotes growth. In a separate section, the article examines Armey’s idea of a quadratic curve that explains the level of government expenditure in an economy and the corresponding level of economic growth [Armey, D. (1995). The Freedom Revolution. Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing Co.]. The findings confirm the possibility of constructing the Armey curve for Sri Lanka, and it estimates the optimal level of government expenditure to be approximately 27%. This article adds to the literature indicating that the Armey curve is a reality not only for developed economies, but also for developing economies.
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