Understanding United States Government Growth: An Empirical Analysis of the Postwar Era

By William D. Berry; David Lowery | Go to book overview

4
TESTING THE EXPLANATIONS

INTRODUCTION

The single-factor explanations of government growth reviewed in Chapter 3 collectively represent the social sciences' understanding of the phenomenon of public sector expansion. But these explanations indicate the tendency in the literature to attempt to explain all government growth using a single independent variable. We argued in Chapter 3 that such an effort is unrealistic. First, different components of government activity have expanded (or contracted) at quite different rates and are likely governed by different change processes. Thus, different explanations probably must be developed for the various components. Furthermore, even growth in individual components of government activity are unlikely to be explained with a single-factor explanation. The change processes of government are too complex to be modeled so simply. We will address these theoretical shortcomings when we develop our theory of government growth in Part III.

A more immediate concern is that despite the theoretical shortcomings of the various single-factor explanations, substantial empirical support has been cited for several of these models. Such empirical support should not be easily dismissed without a clear demonstration of why that support was obtained. Quite simply, we have a responsibility to show why some of these models appear to work so well and to demonstrate why such evidence should not be accepted on its face. Most important in this regard is the use of inappropriate measures of the size of government. As discussed in the previous two chapters, most of the explanations of

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Understanding United States Government Growth: An Empirical Analysis of the Postwar Era
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • List of Tables ix
  • List of Figures xi
  • Preface xiii
  • I GOVERNMENT GROWTH: MEASUREMENT, CONSEQUENCES AND CAUSES 1
  • I the Problem of Government Growth 3
  • 2: MEASURING THE SIZE AND GROWTH OF GOVERNMENT 15
  • II: GOVERNMENT GROWTH 37
  • 3: EXPLANATIONS OF GOVERNMENT GROWTH 39
  • 4: TESTING THE EXPLANATIONS 65
  • III A DISAGGREGATED ANALYSIS OF GOVERNMENT GRONWH 95
  • 5: GROWTH IN THE COST OF GOVERNMENT 97
  • 6: GROWTH IN THE SCOPE OF GOVERNMENT PURCHASES 114
  • 7: GROWTH IN THE SCOPE OF GOVERNMENT TRANSFERS 156
  • IV TOWARD A GREATER UNDERSTANDING OF GOVERNMENT GROWTH 179
  • 8: GOVERNMENT GROWTH 181
  • Bibliography 191
  • Index 207
  • ABOUT THE AUTHORS 213
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