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Partisan Determinants of Federal Highway Grants


  • Frank Goetzke
  • William Hankins
  • Gary A. Hoover


Using data on federal highway grants from the Department of Transportation’s Federal High- way Administration, this paper investigates several questions regarding the political economy of highway funding. We investigate the period 1994 - 2008 and examine whether political align- ment and political ideology play a role in determining how much highway funding per capita a state receives. We find evidence that Republican-dominated House of Representatives del-egations receive more highway funding per capita compared to Democrats, especially in rural states. We also find that senators in the party of the president are able to secure more highway funding per capita. Overall, the distribution of highway spending over this time period appears to have been determined by political rather than deterministic considerations and in a way that is consistent with how the Interstate Highway System has distributed Republican voters to rural areas.

Suggested Citation

  • Frank Goetzke & William Hankins & Gary A. Hoover, 2017. "Partisan Determinants of Federal Highway Grants," CESifo Working Paper Series 6603, CESifo.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_6603

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    1. Valentino Larcinese & Leonzio Rizzo & Cecilia Testa, 2005. "Allocating the US Federal Budget to the States: the Impact of the President," STICERD - Political Economy and Public Policy Paper Series 03, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
    2. Congleton, Roger D & Bennett, Randall W, 1995. "On the Political Economy of State Highway Expenditures: Some Evidence of the Relative Performance of Alternative Public Choice Models," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 84(1-2), pages 1-24, July.
    3. Shama Gamkhar & Hamid Ali, 2008. "Political Economy of Grant Allocations: The Case of Federal Highway Demonstration Grants," Publius: The Journal of Federalism, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(1), pages 1-21, Winter.
    4. Berry, Christopher R. & Burden, Barry C. & Howell, William G., 2010. "The President and the Distribution of Federal Spending," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 104(4), pages 783-799, November.
    5. Phelps, Charlotte D, 1969. "Real and Monetary Determinants of State and Local Highway Investment, 1951-66," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(4), pages 507-521, Part I Se.
    6. Michael L. Walden & Gunce Eryuruk, 2012. "Determinants of Local Highway Spending in N orth C arolina," Growth and Change, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(3), pages 462-481, September.
    7. Gary Hoover & Paul Pecorino, 2005. "The Political Determinants of Federal Expenditure at the State Level," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 123(1), pages 95-113, April.
    8. R. K. Goel & M. A. Nelson, 2003. "Use or abuse of highway tax revenues? An economic analysis of highway spending," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(13), pages 813-819.
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    Cited by:

    1. Niklas Potrafke, 2018. "Government ideology and economic policy-making in the United States—a survey," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 174(1), pages 145-207, January.
    2. Niklas Potrafke & Felix Roesel, 2020. "The urban–rural gap in healthcare infrastructure: does government ideology matter?," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 54(3), pages 340-351, March.
    3. Niklas Potrafke & Felix Rösel, 2019. "The Urban-Rural Gap in Health Care Infrastructure – Does Government Ideology Matter?," ifo Working Paper Series 300, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.
    4. Niklas Potrafke & Felix Roesel, 2020. "The urban–rural gap in healthcare infrastructure: does government ideology matter?," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 54(3), pages 340-351, March.

    More about this item


    federal highway administration grants; political alignment; political ideology;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • H77 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Intergovernmental Relations; Federalism

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