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Party Control of State Government and the Distribution of Public Expenditures

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  • Stephen Ansolabehere
  • James M. Snyder

Abstract

This paper examines the effects of party control of state governments on the distribution of intergovernmental transfers across counties from 1957 to 1997. We find that the governing parties skew the distribution of funds in favor of areas that provide them with the strongest electoral support. This is borne out in two ways. (i) Counties that traditionally give the highest vote share to the governing party receive larger shares of state transfers to local governments. (ii) When control of the state government changes, the distribution of funds shifts in the direction of the new governing party. We find only weak evidence that parties reward electorally pivotal counties or counties in electorally pivotal legislative districts. Finally, we find that increased spending in a county increases voter turnout in subsequent elections. This suggests that parties have an electoral incentive to skew the distribution of funds to influence future election results, and the mechanism through which this works is "mobilization" rather than "conversion" of voters in a fixed electorate. Copyright The editors of the "Scandinavian Journal of Economics" 2006 .

Suggested Citation

  • Stephen Ansolabehere & James M. Snyder, 2006. "Party Control of State Government and the Distribution of Public Expenditures," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 108(4), pages 547-569, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:scandj:v:108:y:2006:i:4:p:547-569
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    1. Strömberg, David, 2002. "Optimal Campaigning in Presidential Elections: The Probability of Being Florida," Seminar Papers 706, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
    2. John Joseph Wallis, 1996. "What Determines the Allocation of National Government Grants to the States?," NBER Historical Working Papers 0090, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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