Fiscal Rules: Historical, Modern, and Sub-National Growth Effects
84 Pages Posted: 16 Jun 2020
Date Written: May 2020
We examine how fiscal rules influence economic growth. The results show that constitutional fiscal rules promoted growth from the Industrial Revolution until World War II (1789-1950) and also increased modern economic growth (1985-2015). To address selection on unobservables, we conduct a large-scale international survey among 1,224 economic experts in 109 countries. We exploit cross-country differences in expert preferences as an instrumental variable for the adoption of constitutional fiscal rules. The results show that the cumulative long-run effect of permanently adopting constitutional fiscal rules on real per capita GDP is 18%. As a complementary strategy to tackle unobservables, we examine sub-national fiscal rules, employing a newly collected dataset of 206 regional governments from 10 federal states (1992-2012). The results show that fiscal rules also increased economic growth at the sub-national level.
Keywords: fiscal rules, economic growth, constitutions, historical public finance
JEL Classification: O110, O120, D740
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