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Special Interest Groups and the Allocation of Public Funds

  • Singhal, Monica

    (Harvard U)

A long-standing puzzle in the fiscal federalism literature is the empirical non-equivalence in government spending from grants and other income. I propose a fully rational model in which violations of fungibility arise from dynamic interactions between politicians and interest groups with the ability to raise funds for local government. The predictions of the model are tested by exploiting unique features of windfalls received by states under a settlement with the tobacco industry. Although windfalls are unrestricted, the median state increased spending on tobacco control programs from zero to $2.30 per capita upon receipt of funds. The marginal propensity to spend on such programs is 0.20 from settlement revenue and zero from overall income. States which were not involved in the settlement lawsuits spend less. The findings are consistent with the predictions of the model when political partisanship is introduced: Republican governors spend less and factors which should lead to political convergence increase spending for Republicans and decrease spending for Democrats. These results cannot be explained by existing models in the literature.

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Paper provided by Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government in its series Working Paper Series with number rwp06-004.

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Date of creation: Feb 2006
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Handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:rwp06-004
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  1. Matthew C. Farrelly & Terry F. Pechacek & Frank J. Chaloupka, 2001. "The Impact of Tobacco Control Program Expenditures on Aggregate Cigarette Sales: 1981-1998," NBER Working Papers 8691, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Philip J. Grossman, 1987. "A Political Theory of Inter-Governmental Grants," School of Economics Working Papers 1987-06, University of Adelaide, School of Economics.
  3. Becker, Gary S, 1983. "A Theory of Competition among Pressure Groups for Political Influence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 98(3), pages 371-400, August.
  4. Paul Milgrom & John Roberts, 1980. "Predation, Reputation, and Entry Deterrence," Discussion Papers 427, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  5. Bradford, David F & Oates, Wallace E, 1971. "An Analysis of Revenue Sharing in a New Approach to Collective Fiscal Decisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 85(3), pages 416-39, August.
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  8. Gordon, Nora, 2004. "Do federal grants boost school spending? Evidence from Title I," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 1771-1792, August.
  9. Moffitt, Robert A., 1984. "The effects of grants-in-aid on state and local expenditures : The case of AFDC," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 279-305, April.
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  14. Farrelly, Matthew C. & Pechacek, Terry F. & Chaloupka, Frank J., 2003. "The impact of tobacco control program expenditures on aggregate cigarette sales: 1981-2000," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(5), pages 843-859, September.
  15. Evans, William N. & Owens, Emily G., 2007. "COPS and crime," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(1-2), pages 181-201, February.
  16. Fisher, Ronald C., 1982. "Income and grant effects on local expenditure: The flypaper effect and other difficulties," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 324-345, November.
  17. Brian Knight, 2002. "Endogenous Federal Grants and Crowd-out of State Government Spending: Theory and Evidence from the Federal Highway Aid Program," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 71-92, March.
  18. Hamilton, Jonathan H., 1986. "The flypaper effect and the deadweight loss from taxation," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 148-155, March.
  19. Alesina, Alberto, 1988. "Credibility and Policy Convergence in a Two-Party System with Rational Voters," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(4), pages 796-805, September.
  20. Filimon, Radu & Romer, Thomas & Rosenthal, Howard, 1982. "Asymmetric information and agenda control : The bases of monopoly power in public spending," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 51-70, February.
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