Recent empirical evidence suggests that private consumption is crowded-in by government spending. This outcome violates existing macroeconomic theory, according to which the negative wealth effect brought about by a rise in public expenditure should decrease consumption. In this paper, we develop a simple real business cycle model where preferences depend on private and public spending, and households are habit forming. The model is estimated by the minimum-distance and the maximum-likelihood methods using U.S. data. Estimation results indicate a strong Edgeworth complementarity between private and public spending. This feature enables the model to generate a positive response of consumption following a government spending shock. In addition, the impulse-response functions generated by the estimated model mimic closely those obtained from a benchmark vector autoregression.

Published In:

Canadian Journal of Economics (0008-4085)
August 2007. Vol. 40, Iss. 3. pp. 954-79