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Is public debt hindering economic growth of the Philippines?

Naeem Akram (Research & Statistics Wing, Ministry of Economic Affairs, Islamabad, Pakistan.)

International Journal of Social Economics

ISSN: 0306-8293

Article publication date: 2 March 2015

Abstract

Purpose

Over the years most of the developing countries have failed to collect enough revenues to finance their budgets. As a result, they have to face the problem of twin deficits and to rely on external and domestic debt to finance their developmental activities. The positive effects of public debt relate to the fact that in resource-starved economies debt financing (if done properly) leads to higher growth and adds to their capacity to service and repay external and internal debt. The negative effects work through two main channels – i.e., “Debt Overhang” and “Crowding Out” effects. The purpose of this paper is to examine the consequences of public debt for economic growth and investment for the Philippines.

Design/methodology/approach

The present study examines the consequences of public debt for economic growth and investment for the Philippines during the period 1975-2010, by using autoregressive distributed lag technique.

Findings

The results reveal that in the Philippines, public external debt has negative and significant relationship with economic growth and investment confirming the existence of “Debt Overhang effect”. But due to insignificant relationships of debt servicing with investment and economic growth, the existence of the crowding out hypothesis could not be confirmed. The domestic debt has a negative relationship with investment and positive relationship with economic growth.

Research limitations/implications

First and foremost implication of the study is that heavy reliance on external debt must be discouraged. Therefore, in order to accelerate economic growth, developing countries must adopt those policies that are likely to result in reducing their debt burden, and it must not be allowed to reach unsustainable level. In the case of domestic debt, the present study finds that investment is negatively affected by domestic debt due to the crowding out effect; yet real GDP has a positive relationship with domestic debt. Thus, if policy makers want to use domestic debt as a tool to stimulate real GDP then it must keep an eye on the consequences of domestic debt on the investment.

Practical implications

First and foremost implication of the study is that heavy reliance on external debt must be discouraged. Therefore, in order to accelerate economic growth, the Philippines must adopt those policies that are likely to result in reducing their debt burden, and external debt it must not be allowed to reach unsustainable level. In the case of domestic debt, the present study finds that investment is negatively affected by domestic debt due to the crowding out effect; yet real GDP has a positive relationship with domestic debt. Thus, if policy makers want to use domestic debt as a tool to stimulate real GDP then it must keep an eye on the consequences of domestic debt for on the investment.

Social implications

It also follows from the estimation results that population growth rate is harmful for the economic growth. So in order to stimulate the growth performance, it must adopt effective population control policies. Similarly, since openness and investment are growth enhancing so there is need for the trade and investment supportive policies.

Originality/value

From the review of literature on the issue, it can be broadly summarized that most of the studies are on the relationship of external debt and economic growth, neglecting domestic debt entirely or mentioning it in the passing. Second, most of these studies have been conducted by using panel data. However, as the different countries vary in socio-economic conditions so it is better to conduct the country specific study. The present study is an attempt to fill these gaps in the existing literature.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

JEL Classification – H63, O43, E22, C22

These are the author’s personal viewpoints and do not reflect the viewpoints of his affiliated institution. The author is also thankful to Dr Syed NawabHaider Naqvi for his valuable suggestions and encouragement in conducting the present research.

Citation

Akram, N. (2015), "Is public debt hindering economic growth of the Philippines?", International Journal of Social Economics, Vol. 42 No. 3, pp. 202-221. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSE-02-2013-0047

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited