NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Government Purchases Over the Business Cycle: the Role of Economic and Political Inequality

Ruediger Bachmann, Jinhui Bai

NBER Working Paper No. 16247
Issued in August 2010
NBER Program(s):   EFG

This paper explores the implications of economic and political inequality for the business cycle comovement of government purchases. We set up and compute a heterogeneous-agent neoclassical growth model, where households value government purchases which are financed by income taxes. A key feature of the model is a wealth bias in the political aggregation process. When calibrated to U.S. wealth inequality and exposed to aggregate productivity shocks, such a model is able to generate milder procyclicality of government purchases than models with no political wealth bias. The degree of wealth bias that matches the observed mild procyclicality of government purchases in the data, is consistent with cross-sectional data on political participation.

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