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Saying No to Abstinence-Only Education: An Analysis of State Decision-Making


  • Alesha E. Doan
  • Deborah R. McFarlane


As a rule, American states try to maximize their share of federal funds. This study addresses an unusual case of states rejecting federal dollars. Here, the spurned monies were block grants for abstinence-only education, intended to discourage adolescent sexual activity. These grants became available in 1998, but by 2009, twenty-five states had rejected them. Using a conceptual framework drawn from fiscal federalism and morality politics, we explore the dynamics of these state decisions through an event history analysis. The results suggest that states' rejection of abstinence-only funds were largely driven by partisanship and ideology rather than by fiscal maximization or state needs. We argue that this case is a bellwether for fiscal federalism in a polarized polity. Copyright 2012, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Alesha E. Doan & Deborah R. McFarlane, 2012. "Saying No to Abstinence-Only Education: An Analysis of State Decision-Making," Publius: The Journal of Federalism, Oxford University Press, vol. 42(4), pages 613-635, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:publus:v:42:y:2012:i:4:p:613-635

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    Cited by:

    1. Timothy Callaghan & Lawrence R. Jacobs, 2014. "Process Learning and the Implementation of Medicaid Reform," Publius: The Journal of Federalism, Oxford University Press, vol. 44(4), pages 541-563.
    2. Riemer P. Faber & Pierre Koning, 2017. "Why not fully spend a conditional block grant?," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 24(1), pages 60-95, February.

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