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 a new fiscal dataset for small states, this paper analyzes the link between country size, government size, debt, and economic performance. It finds that on average small states have larger governments and higher public debt. Although there are intrinsic factors that explain why governments are bigger in small states, those with smaller governments and lower public debt tend to grow faster and are less vulnerable. Large fiscal adjustments, primarily through expenditure restraint, can underpin growth, although sometimes other elements can also impact. Since better governance is associated with lower debt, fiscal adjustment should be supported by governance improvements.