August 25, 2019. Larger governments foster equality across Europe.

A new GLO Discussion Paper suggests that government size has reduced inequality in European countries over the period 2004-2015.

The Global Labor Organization (GLO) is an independent, non-partisan and non-governmental organization that functions as an international network and virtual platform to stimulate global research, debate and collaboration.

GLO Discussion Paper No. 381, 2019

Income Inequality and the Size of Government: A Causal Analysis – Download PDF
by Guzi, Martin & Kahanec, Martin

GLO Fellow Martin Guzi & Martin Kahanec

Author 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.

GLO Discussion Papers are research and policy papers of the GLO Network which are widely circulated to encourage discussion. Provided in cooperation with EconStor, a service of the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, GLO Discussion Papers are among others listed in RePEc (see IDEAS,  EconPapers)Complete list of all GLO DPs – downloadable for free.


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