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Red ink in the rearview mirror: local fiscal conditions and the issuance of traffic tickets

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  • Thomas A. Garrett
  • Gary A. Wagner

Abstract

Municipalities have revenue motives for enforcing traffic laws in addition to public safety motives because many traffic offenses are punished via fines and the issuing municipality often retains the revenue. Anecdotal evidence supports this revenue motive. We empirically test this revenue motive using panel data on North Carolina counties. We find that significantly more tickets are issued in the year following a decline in revenue, but the issuance of traffic tickets does not decline in years following revenue increases. Our results suggest that tickets are used as a revenue generation tool rather than solely a means to increase public safety. ; Formerly titled: Are traffic tickets countercyclical?

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in its series Working Papers with number 2006-048.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlwp:2006-048

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Keywords: Local government;

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  1. Tim Besley, 2002. "Political institutions and policy choices: evidence from the United States," IFS Working Papers W02/13, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  2. Poterba, James M & Rotemberg, Julio J, 1990. "Inflation and Taxation with Optimizing Governments," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 22(1), pages 1-18, February.
  3. Mankiw, N. Gregory, 1987. "The optimal collection of seigniorage : Theory and evidence," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 327-341, September.
  4. Oates, Wallace E, 1985. "Searching for Leviathan: An Empirical Study," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(4), pages 748-57, September.
  5. Thomas A. Garrett, 2002. "Aggregated vs. disaggregated data in regression analysis: implications for inference," Working Papers 2002-024, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  6. Lave, Charles A, 1985. "Speeding, Coordination, and the 55 MPH Limit," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(5), pages 1159-64, December.
  7. A. Mitchell Polinsky & Steven Shavell, 1990. "Enforcement Costs and the Optimal Magnitude and Probability of Fines," NBER Working Papers 3429, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Sobel, Russell S. & Holcombe, Randall G., 1996. "Measuring the Growth and Variability of Tax Bases over the Business Cycle," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 49(4), pages 535-52, December.
  9. Graves, Philip E. & Lee, Dwight R. & Sexton, Robert L., 1993. "Speed variance, enforcement, and the optimal speed limit," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 42(2-3), pages 237-243.
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Cited by:
  1. Makowsky, Michael & Sanders, Shane, 2013. "Political costs and fiscal benefits: The political economy of residential property value assessment under Proposition 212," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 120(3), pages 359-363.
  2. Makowsky, Michael & Thomas, Stratmann, 2008. "More Tickets, Fewer Accidents: How Cash-Strapped Towns Make for Safer Roads," MPRA Paper 14360, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Sarah Marx Quintanar, . "Man vs. Machine: An Investigation of Speeding Ticket Disparities Based on Gender and Race," Departmental Working Papers 2009-16, Department of Economics, Louisiana State University.

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