This paper investigates the drastic reduction in public spending in OECD countries during the 1990s. Using a panel data set of 18 countries, we find this adjustment to be a general OECD development, beginning in 1994, and that participation in the Maastricht Treaty or in the Stability and Growth Pact does not introduce additional effects. In the long run, this adjustment is estimated to reduce the ratio of primary government spending to output by about 4 percentage points. There is no evidence of differential adjustment in expansions or recessions. We also find that declines in interest payments on public debt are followed by increases in primary expenditures by about the same amount. The econometric framework makes it possible to compute the long-run ratios of government expenditures to GDP in the 18 OECD countries in the sample.

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