An autonomous research institute under the Ministry of Finance


Linkage Between Income and Government Expenditure at Indian Sub-Nationals: A Second-Generation Panel Cointegration Techniques

Publication date

Mar, 2023


The Journal of Developing Areas Tennessee State University College of Business Volume 57, Number 1, Winter 2023 pp. 205-228


Dinesh Kumar Nayak , Bhabesh Hazarika


This article examined whether the Wagner’s law that represents the long-run relationship between income and public expenditure holds at the subnational level in India. It also examines whether the Wagner's law is revenue expenditure specific or capital expenditure specific in the context of Indian sub-nationals. The paper covers 21 Indian States and a time period of 40 years, from 1980-81 to 2019-20. In this study we have assessed six pairs of relationships among state-level income, public expenditures, revenue expenditure, capital outlay, public expenditure on economic services, public expenditure on social services, and expenditure on the developmental sector. The validity of the law was examined for nine different panels of states broadly under income categories and geographical regions. Unlike first-generation panel techniques, which fail to account for the aspects of cross-sectional independence and heterogeneity, the present study tests the validity of the Wagner’s law using the second-generation panel unit root method and cointegration approach. The analysis adopted Panel Dynamic Ordinary Least Square to test the evidence of Wagner’s law hypothesis. The findings reveal that Indian states are heterogeneous in terms of public expenditure, and there exists cross-sectional dependence. There also exists a long-run cointegrating relation between state-level income and state-level public expenditure. For the full sample, while this study finds holding Wagner’s law, there is a mixed validity of the law in different panels across income categories and regions. In addition, it is observed that the validity of Wagner’s law in the Indian Subnational context is mainly driven by the high-income major states, and it is more capital outlay centric. To conclude, these responsive affiliations comprehend the effectiveness of public expenditure as a fiscal policy instrument in stimulating economic growth and the contribution of economic growth in the budget exercise at the subnational level. Therefore, subnational governments need to be more strategic to ensure growth momentum as the public expenditure indirectly and directly causes the living standard and welfare of the people in the economy. It must be acknowledged that India adopted fiscal rules in 2005, which may limit the procyclical fiscal policy during the swings in the business cycle, and thus have implications for budget exercises at the sub-national level.