Data Management

Government Purchases Over The Business Cycle: The Role Of Economic And Political Inequality

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Executive Summary

This paper explores the implications of economic and political inequality for the business cycle co movement of government purchases. The authors 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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