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.
This paper evaluates the bias of the least-squares-with-dummy-variables (LSDV) method in fiscal reaction function estimations. A growing number of studies estimate fiscal policy reaction functions-that is, relationships between the primary fiscal balance and its determinants, including public debt and the output gap. A previously unexplored methodological issue in these estimations is that lagged debt is not a strictly exogenous variable, which biases the LSDV estimator in short panels. We derive the bias analytically to understand its determinants and run Monte Carlo simulations to assess its likely size in empirical work. We find the bias to be smaller than the bias of the LSDV estimator in a comparable autoregressive dynamic panel model and show the LSDV method to outperform a number of alternatives in estimating fiscal reaction functions.