The nonlinear dynamic effect of government expenditure on income inequality: The case of macroprudential policy switching

Lindokuhle Talent Zungu

Article ID: 2515
Vol 8, Issue 4, 2024

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A panel data analysis of nonlinear government expenditure and income inequality dynamics in a macroprudential policy regime was conducted on a panel of 15 emerging countries from 1985–2019, where there had been a non-prudential regime from 1985–1999 and a prudential regime from 2000–2019. The paper explored the validity of the nonlinearity between government expenditure and income inequality in the macroprudential policy regime as well as the threshold level at which excessive spending reduces income inequality using the Bayesian spatial lag panel smooth transition regression (BSPSTR) and fix effect models. The BSPSTR model was adopted due to its ability to address the problems of heterogeneity, endogeneity, and cross-section correlation in a nonlinear framework. Moreover, as the transition variable often varies across time and space, the effect of the independent variables can also be time- and space-varying. The results reveal evidence of a nonlinear effect between government spending and income inequality, where the minimum level of government spending is found to be 29.89 percent of GDP, above which expenditure reduces inequality in emerging countries. The findings confirmed an inverted U-shaped relationship. The focal policy recommendation is that fiscal policy decisions that will reinforce the need for more emphasis on education and public expenditure on education and health, as important tools for improving income inequality, are crucial for these economies. Caution is needed when introducing macroprudential policies, especially at a low level of government expenditure.


BSLPSTR; government expenditure; income inequality; macroprudential policy; nonlinearity

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