NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Why Do More Open Economies Have Bigger Governments?

Dani Rodrik

NBER Working Paper No. 5537
Issued in April 1996
NBER Program(s):   ITI   IFM   PE

This paper demonstrates that there is a robust empirical association between the extent to which an economy is exposed to trade and the size of its government sector. This association holds for a large cross-section of countries, in low- as well as high-income samples, and is robust to the inclusion of a wide range of controls. The explanation appears to be that government consumption plays a risk-reducing role in economies exposed to a significant amount of external risk. When openness is interacted with explicit measures of external risk, such as terms-of-trade uncertainty and product concentration of exports, it is the interaction terms that enter significantly, and the openness term loses its significance (or turns negative). The paper also demonstrates that government consumption is the majority of countries.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w5537

Published: Journal of Political Economy (October 1998).

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