Growing public, vol. 1 The story by Lindert P.H.

By Lindert P.H.

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Both the taxpayers and the recipients respond by working less and taking less productive risk, thus lowering GDP. The problem with this consensus is that the data refuse to confess that things work out that way. The basic empirical problem stares at us in the raw data, just as it did in Chapter 1. Across countries or over time, the coefficients linking growth to total government size are not negative, even in sophisticated multivariate statistical analysis. In the global cross-section, richer countries do not tax and spend less.

The third leading suspect is a general background of politicized class antagonisms. 17 By contrast, countries where labor-market rigidities are accompanied by antagonisms and high rates of work disruption have higher rates of unemployment, other things equal. Such antagonisms, inherited from history, cost jobs, partly because they are the reasons why those first two suspects – job protection laws and particularly high minimum wage rates – have so much more effect in some countries than in others.

3. 07 Notes and Sources: Social transfers/GDP for 1880–1930: Welfare, unemployment, pensions, health, and housing subsidies, as given in Lindert (1994, Table 1). Social transfers/GDP for 1960–1980: OECD old series (OECD 1985); 1980– 1990: OECD new series (OECD 1998). 1 (Heston et al 2002) for 1990–2000. The 19 countries are Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece (1960s, on) Ireland (1960s on), Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

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