The Validity of Wagner’s Law in India: A Post-liberalisation Analysis

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Suraj Sharma
Surendra Singh


Aims: The present study attempts to analyse the behavior of government expenditure in relation to national income using most appropriate advanced econometric techniques to test the Wagner’s law of increasing State’s activity in Indian scenario during the post-liberalisation period of 1988 to 2017.

Data: The study uses the IMF database entitled “International Financial Statistics” and World Bank database entitled “World Development Indicators” for testing Wagner’s law for the Indian economy.

Methodology: The study employs appropriate econometric techniques to our model where government expenditure is used as regressand and gross domestic product and urbanisation is used as regressors. The study first investigates for unit roots in data using ADF and PP tests. Further, to investigate any co-integration among variables the study employed Johansen co-integration test. Once co-integration is confirmed, a vector error correction model has been estimated and lastly, Granger causality test is applied to check for any causality.

Results: The results of Vector Error Correction Model reveal that both the Gross Domestic Product and the urban population have a positive and statistically significant effect on government expenditure in the long-run. Ceteris paribus, every 1.0 percent increase in GDP leads 0.36 percent increase in government expenditure. On the other hand, 1.0 percent increase in urban population leads to a 3.75 percent increase in government expenditure. The Granger causality results divulge that there is unidirectional causality running from urban population to government expenditure, whereas neither unidirectional nor bidirectional causality was found between GDP and public expenditure. In short-run, neither GDP nor urban population influences public expenditure.

Conclusion: To sum up, the present investigation provides support for Wagner’s law in case of India in the long run only. It has been found that urbanisation has a greater impact on public expenditure than the national income (GDP) and which is also supported by Granger causality test showing significant unidirectional causality running from level of urbanisation to government expenditure.

Government expenditure, Wagner’s law, gross domestic product, error correction model

Article Details

How to Cite
Sharma, S., & Singh, S. (2019). The Validity of Wagner’s Law in India: A Post-liberalisation Analysis. South Asian Journal of Social Studies and Economics, 4(2), 1-13.
Original Research Article


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