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Government education expenditures and economic growth: a meta-analysis

  • Sefa Awaworyi Churchill ORCID logo EMAIL logo , Mehmet Ugur and Siew Ling Yew


Using a sample of 237 estimates drawn from 29 primary studies, we conduct a hierarchical meta-regression analysis that examines the association between economic growth and government expenditure on education. We find that the effect of government education expenditure on growth is positive for developed countries. However, when the evidence pertains to less developed countries (LDCs), we find a statistically insignificant association. We also examine the heterogeneity in empirical results and found that factors such as econometric specifications, publication characteristics as well as data characteristics explain the heterogeneity in the literature. We find no evidence of publication selectivity.

JEL Classification: H52; O4

A Appendix Table

Table 5:

MRA Variables.

t-valuet-statistics reported in primary studies1.172.39
PrecisionInverse of standard error of the partial correlation coefficient 4.282.01
SEriStandard errors of the partial correlation coefficients0.110.05
OECDTakes value 1 if the primary study data is from OECD countries, otherwise 00.191.48
LDCs Takes value 1 if the primary study data is from LDCs, otherwise 02.215.86
Sample sizeLog of number of observations in primary study12.674.63
Cross-section Takes value 1 if cross-section data is used by primary study, 0 if panel is used3.546.74
Panel dataTakes value 1 if panel data is used by primary study, otherwise 07.547.74
Control for endogeneityTakes value 1 if primary study controls for endogeneity, otherwise 01.723.84
Endogenous growth modelTakes value 1 if the model is based on endogenous growth model, otherwise
Data average (=> 5)Takes value 1 if data averaging period is => 5 otherwise 06.266.10
Data average* panel dataTakes value 1 if study used panel data and averaging period is => 5 otherwise 03.756.25
Data period (1970+)Takes value 1 if data year >= 1970, otherwise 07.938.18
Data period (1980+)Takes value 1 if data year >= 1980, otherwise 02.665.79
Data period (1990+)Takes value 1 if data year >= 1990, otherwise 02.405.54
Data period (2000+)Takes value 1 if data year >= 2000, otherwise 02.405.54
Initial GDPTakes value 1 if the primary study control for initial per capita GDP, otherwise 05.737.98
Population Takes value 1 if the primary study control for population, otherwise 02.554.32
Private investment Takes value 1 if the primary study control for private investment, otherwise 04.317.78
TaxTakes value 1 if the primary study control for taxes, otherwise 05.519.41
OpennessTakes value 1 if the primary study control for openness indicators, otherwise 03.426.06
InflationTakes value 1 if the primary study control for inflation, otherwise 02.645.82
Journal rankTakes value 1 if the primary study is published in high-ranked journal, otherwise 06.487.75
Journal Takes value 1 if the primary study is published in a journal, otherwise 09.728.15
Publication year (1990+)Takes value 1 if publication year >= 1990, otherwise 09.687.24
Publication year (2000+)Takes value 1 if publication year >= 2000, otherwise 06.397.27
Publication year (2010+)Takes value 1 if publication year >= 2010, otherwise 03.697.01
  1. MRA dummy variables are divided by SEri.

Table 6:

Robustness Check with alternate measure of journal quality.

VariablesSpecific model
CDA (1)HLM (2)
Cross section0.4212***0.4727***
Endogenous growth model−0.1785***−0.1054**
Data average (=> 5)0.2656***0.2737***
Data period (1990+)−0.3012***−0.2637***
Population −0.3108***−0.3060***
Tax −0.1171**−0.1309***
Political instability−0.1419−0.2133***
Life expectancy0.3219***0.4173***
Government quality−0.2169**−0.3400***
Inflation −0.02190.0598
Journal rank−0.1854*−0.1431*
Journal 0.2229**0.2531**
Publication year (1990+)−0.3662***−0.3302***
Publication year (2000+)0.1591***0.1270**
  1. Robust standard errors in parentheses.

  2. ***p < 0.01, **p < 0.05, *p < 0.1.

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Received: 2016-11-26
Accepted: 2017-1-9
Published Online: 2017-5-25

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