Public debt and economic growth in Spain, 1851–2013
In this paper we investigate the long-run relationship between public debt and economic growth in the Spanish economy for the period 1851–2013. We develop a cliometric analysis of the debt–growth nexus using novel time series methods. We find some support for a negative relationship between both variables, but no clear evidence of a debt threshold. The estimated long-run elasticity in a one-break model shows a tendency to decrease over time from a nonsignificant 0.011 to a −0.070, indicating that a 10 percentage increase in the public debt-to-GDP ratio is associated with 0.70 percentage points lower real economic growth. Indeed, we find for the first subsample (1851–1939) either “decoupling” or “saturation,” while in the second subsample (1940–2000) the long-run elasticity coefficient becomes negative and significant. When we extend our analysis up to 2013, we find a break in 1971 coinciding with the twilight of Franco’s dictatorship and the Spanish transition to democracy.