Income Inequality and the Size of Government: A Causal Analysis

26 Pages Posted: 23 Jan 2019

See all articles by Martin Guzi

Martin Guzi

Masaryk University; Central European Labour Studies Institute (CELSI); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Martin Kahanec

IZA Institute of Labor Economics; Central European University; Central European Labour Studies Institute

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.

Keywords: inequality, redistribution, government size, instrumental variable, Gini Index

JEL Classification: D31, D60, H20

Suggested Citation

Guzi, Martin and Kahanec, Martin, Income Inequality and the Size of Government: A Causal Analysis. IZA Discussion Paper No. 12015. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3318771

Martin Guzi (Contact Author)

Masaryk University ( email )

Lipova 41a
Brno, 60200
Czech Republic
+420549496766 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.muni.cz/econ/people/233611

Central European Labour Studies Institute (CELSI)

Zvolenská 29
Bratislava, 82109
Slovakia

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://legacy.iza.org/en/webcontent/personnel/photos/index_html?key=5347

Martin Kahanec

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Central European University ( email )

Nador utca 9
Budapest, H-1051
Hungary

Central European Labour Studies Institute ( email )

Zvolenská 29
Bratislava, 82109
Slovakia

HOME PAGE: http://www.celsi.sk

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