Fiscal Consolidation and Firm Growth in Developing Countries: Evidence from Firm-level Data

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Despite a longstanding debate around the economic effects of fiscal consolidation policies, relatively few studies have focused on developing countries, and even fewer have paid attention to the growth implications at firm level. Using a unique narrative dataset based on contemporaneous policy documents to identify changes in fiscal policy aimed at reducing the accumulation of public debt, we investigate the effects of fiscal consolidation on the growth of 118,279 firms in 98 developing countries from 2006 to 2018. The results indicate that a one percentage point increase in fiscal consolidation as a share of GDP leads, on average, to a decline in firm growth of 3.97 percentage points. This decline is reduced when consolidation is large. We also find that debt-driven consolidation based on tax hikes is more contractionary than that based on spending cuts, though this contractionary effect is mitigated when spending cuts exceed 1.5 percent of GDP. While the negative effect of fiscal consolidation on firm performance is more pronounced in large and non-exporting firms, the effect is not statistically important in low-debt-risk developing countries.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-266
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Development Studies
Issue number2
Early online date11 Oct 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The terms on which this article has been published allow the posting of the Accepted Manuscript in a repository by the author(s) or with their consent.


  • fiscal consolidation
  • sovereign debt
  • firm performance
  • developing countries


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