Procyclical government spending: a public choice analysis

Andrew Abbott, Philip Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (SciVal)
350 Downloads (Pure)


Procyclical government spending occurs when government expenditures increase at a faster rate than income in an economic upturn but fall at a faster rate in a recession. Voracity effects occur when competition for increased spending proves more effective as national income increases. Public choice theory can be applied to describe the distribution of fiscal power across different tiers of government to shed insight into competition for intergovernmental transfers. Politicians have electoral incentives to press for intergovernmental transfers but they also have electoral incentives to signal their ability to manage the economy. With this mix of incentives, the prediction is that intergovernmental transfers will be procyclical and that sub-central government spending will be more procyclical than central government spending. Public choice analysis of pressure for increased public spending predicts a specific pattern of cyclical government spending. This pattern can be observed when analyzing government expenditures in 20 OECD countries between 1995 and 2006.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-258
Number of pages16
JournalPublic Choice
Issue number3-4
Early online date20 Jul 2011
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013


Dive into the research topics of 'Procyclical government spending: a public choice analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this