Reassessing the Public Debt Threshold in the EU: Do Macroeconomic Conditions Matter?
This paper explores the relationship between debt and growth in the 28 EU member states over the 1995-2014 period using an interacted panel data estimator in standard augmented Solow growth regression. The nonlinear nature of the debt-growth relationship allows for computation of the optimal turning point given the set of four conditioning variables. Additionally, the heterogeneity in EU members’ growth rates is explored by a panel data quantile regression estimator with nonadditive fixed effects. The results suggest that while additional government consumption decreases the level of growth-maximizing debt, the level of private debt has a positive impact on the optimal turning point. On average, estimated optimal debt thresholds are located in the vicinity of the policy-set 60% debt-to-GDP ratio; however, the observed high heterogeneity in the underlying data results in wide confidence intervals.
Keywords: Debt overhang, Debt threshold level, Panel data, Interaction effects, Quantile regression.
JEL: F34, F43, H63.