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American Government Finance in the Long Run: 1790 to 1990

Author

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  • John Joseph Wallis

Abstract

Government in America has gone through three distinct fiscal systems in the last two hundred years. Each system utilized a dominant revenue source, and had a distinctly active level of government. The changing structure of government by level seems to be related to changing revenue structures. When new taxes become important, the relative importance of each level of government changes. On the other hand, growth in the overall size of government is not directly related to the structure of revenues or the distribution of activity by level of government. Government growth is the result of long term commitments to provide education, transportation, social welfare services, old age security, and military forces.

Suggested Citation

  • John Joseph Wallis, 2000. "American Government Finance in the Long Run: 1790 to 1990," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(1), pages 61-82, Winter.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:14:y:2000:i:1:p:61-82 Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.14.1.61
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    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.14.1.61
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Wallis, John Joseph, 1991. "The Political Economy of New Deal Fiscal Federalism," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 29(3), pages 510-524, July.
    2. G.S. Maddala & Forrest D. Nelson, 1975. "Specification Errors in Limited Dependent Variable Models," NBER Working Papers 0096, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Robert P. Inman & Daniel L. Rubinfeld, 1997. "Rethinking Federalism," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(4), pages 43-64, Fall.
    4. John J. Wallis & Wallace Oates, 1998. "The Impact of the New Deal on American Federalism," NBER Chapters,in: The Defining Moment: The Great Depression and the American Economy in the Twentieth Century, pages 155-180 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Goodrich, Carter, 1950. "The Revulsion Against Internal Improvements," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 10(02), pages 145-169, November.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Gonzalez-Eiras, Martin & Niepelt, Dirk, 2016. "Fiscal Federalism, Taxation and Grants," CEPR Discussion Papers 11482, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. John Joseph Wallis, 2004. "Constitutions, Corporations, and Corruption: American States and Constitutional Change," NBER Working Papers 10451, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Federico Boffa & Amedeo Piolatto & Giacomo Ponzetto, 2015. "Should Different People Have Different Governments?," BEMPS - Bozen Economics & Management Paper Series BEMPS30, Faculty of Economics and Management at the Free University of Bozen.
    4. Wallis, John, 2001. "The Political Economy of New Deal Spending, Yet Again: A Reply to Fleck," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 305-314, April.
    5. repec:jed:journl:v:42:y:2017:i:3:p:1-16 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Lars Feld & Christoph Schaltegger, 2010. "Political stability and fiscal policy: time series evidence for the Swiss federal level since 1849," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 144(3), pages 505-534, September.
    7. Federico Boffa & Amedeo Piolatto & Giacomo A. M. Ponzetto, 2012. "Centralization and accountability: theory and evidence from the Clean Air Act," Working Papers 2012/14, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
    8. Irigoin, Alejandra, 2015. "Representation without taxation, taxation without consent. The legacy of Spanish colonialism in America," Economic History Working Papers 64804, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
    9. H. Spencer Banzhaf & Wallace E. Oates, 2013. "On Fiscal Illusion in Local Public Finance: Re-Examining Ricardian Equivalence and the Renter Effect," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 66(3), pages 511-540, September.
    10. Giacomo Ponzetto & Amedeo Piolatto & Federico Boffa, 2015. "Should Different People Have Different Governments?," 2015 Meeting Papers 1015, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    11. Dietz Vollrath, 2008. "Wealth Distribution and the Provision of Public Goods: Evidence from the United States," Working Papers 2008-04, Department of Economics, University of Houston.
    12. repec:dgr:kubcen:2012033 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Vollrath, Dietrich, 2013. "Inequality and school funding in the rural United States, 1890," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 267-284.
    14. Cristina Arellano & Andrew Atkeson & Mark Wright, 2016. "External and Public Debt Crises," NBER Macroeconomics Annual, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(1), pages 191-244.
    15. Thomas J. Sargent, 2012. "Nobel Lecture: United States Then, Europe Now," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 120(1), pages 1-40.
    16. Li Liu, 2014. "Income Taxation and Business Incorporation: Evidence From the Early Twentieth Century," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, pages 387-418.
    17. Rui Manuel Pereira, Alfredo Marvao Pereira and William J. Hausman, 2017. "Railroad Infrastructure Investments and Economic Development in the Antebellum United States," Journal of Economic Development, Chung-Ang Unviersity, Department of Economics, vol. 42(3), pages 1-16, September.
    18. Federico Boffa & Amedeo Piolatto & Giacomo A. M. Ponzetto, 2016. "Political Centralization and Government Accountability," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 131(1), pages 381-422.
    19. John Joseph Wallis, 2004. "The Concept of Systematic Corruption in American Political and Economic History," NBER Working Papers 10952, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    20. John Dove, 2012. "Credible commitments and constitutional constraints: state debt repudiation and default in nineteenth century America," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, pages 66-93.
    21. Wallis, John & Weingast, Barry, 2005. "The Financing of 19th Century Internal Improvements," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt7nh1c6df, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
    22. Timothy J. Bartik, 2009. "How Policymakers Should Deal with the Delayed Benefits of Early Childhood Programs," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 09-150, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
    23. repec:tiu:tiucen:2012033 is not listed on IDEAS
    24. H. Spencer Banzhaf & Wallace E. Oates, 2012. "On Fiscal Illusion and Ricardian Equivalence in Local Public Finance," NBER Working Papers 18040, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H00 - Public Economics - - General - - - General
    • N42 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • N41 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913

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