The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
Using the between-sector variation in income as a new measure of economic uncertainty, this paper proposes simple models and supportive empirical evidence for the causal relations between economic uncertainty and government size in the open economy setting. Key empirical findings include: (1) a larger government reduces economic uncertainty, and, at the same time, (2) an economy facing higher uncertainty has a larger government. However, (3) the government tends to resort to redistributive policies to reduce the uncertainty, while (4) government direct spending is also an effective option for the purpose. The study also finds that (5) cross-sectional measure of economic uncertainty tends to rise when a country becomes more open to international trade.