Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 29 November 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Despite massive worldwide growth of government in the twentieth century, there have been periods in the U.S. and other countries when growth has slowed or reversed. Government growth is not inevitable. Explanations of government growth fall into three major categories. Path-dependent theories emphasize factors that continually push the size of government up, so the current size is in part a function of its past size. Theories about the equilibrium size of government explain why government is big, but not why government grows. If equilibrium conditions change, that can produce government growth. Theories also describe ideological shifts that cause people to want, or at least accept, bigger governments. All these explanations could have an effect on government growth. However, none appears to be persuasive enough to explain all the growth that occurred.

Keywords: government growth, ratchets hypothesis, interest groups, Leviathan government, ideology, progressivism

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.