Fiscal Spending and Economic Performance: Some Stylized Facts


Using an “event analysis”, this paper complements the cross-country approach to the study of fiscal correlates of growth. Data on fiscal expenditures and growth for a database of 140 countries (118 developing countries) over 1972–2005 are reorganized around turning points providing a summary but encompassing description of “what is in the data”. For this sample, the probability of occurrence of a fiscal event is about 10%, and, the probability of a growth event once a fiscal event had occurred is around 26%. For developing countries, fiscal events followed by growth events occur under situations of (i) significantly lesser deficit, (ii) fewer resources devoted to non-interest general public services and (iii) shift in primary expenditures toward transport & communication. After controlling for the growth-inducing effects of positive terms-of-trade shocks and of trade liberalization reform, probit estimates indicate that a growth event is more likely to occur in a developing country when surrounded by a fiscal event. Moreover, the probability of occurrence of a growth event in the years following a fiscal event is greater the lower is the associated fiscal deficit, confirming that success of a growth-oriented fiscal expenditure reform is associate with a stabilized macroeconomic environment (through limited primary fiscal deficit).

Carrere, C., et J. de Melo. 2012. “Fiscal Spending and Economic Performance: Some Stylized Facts”, in World Development, 40( 9) : 1750-1761.