Does government spending suck the resources away from the private sector?

Are resources pulled away from the private sector due to government spending? This question has annoyed economists for a long time.

A much-known theory ‘the crowding-out effect’ responds to this question with a confirmation. It says that all the resources are eating up by the government spending which otherwise could have been utilized by the businesses.

Professor Daniel Murphy said: “The theory would suggest that when the government spends money on battle tanks that consumes resources that might have been used to make cars.”

However, latest research contradicts to this by showing that the economy is not producing to its full potential that’s why crowding is happening.  The study says: “We find no evidence that government spending in an industry/location crowds out income in other local industries or in other locations. These findings are contrary to conventional wisdom and the predictions of the neoclassical theory.”

The research was carried out to find evidence if indeed crowing out of private sectors was caused by government spending. Data was thoroughly analyzed by the trio of academics on the contracts by the Department of Defense. Geographic locations of the contractors were also included in the data. Then, the time period of contract & corresponding dollar value was looked into.

The results of the study were surprising. As the report stated: “We find that local industries benefit from all three forms of spending. We find no evidence that employment falls in areas or industries that don’t directly receive the spending.”

. Hence the answer to the key question is “NO”. One explanation for this is that the economists were giving their fullest input to produce the maximum output i.e. weren’t running flat out.

This can be explained by the phenomenon “excess capacity” where the actual output is less than the expected or potential attainable output. Take the example of an idle machine which is only utilized when demand for products is relatively more. Similarly, workers who are currently unemployed can be really productive for firms if given jobs.