The power of the purse: what do the data say on US federal budget allocation to the states?"
This paper provides new evidence on the relevance of alternative theories of federal budget allocation to US States. Using a panel of 48 states over 20 years, we estimate the size and relative importance of different institutional and political factors in determining such allocation. We find that although socio-economic characteristics are very important explanatory variables of spending allocation, some states receive disproportionate amounts of money for reasons essentially linked to politics and the budget allocation process. In particular we find that the overrepresentation of small states determined by the Senate and Presidential election systems has an important impact on federal budget allocation. States whose governor has the same political affiliation of the President receive more federal funds in the form of procurement and defense spending. On the other hand, the political alignment between governor and majority in the House and/or Senate does not affect the allocation of federal funds. We do not find any evidence that marginal states receive more funding; on the opposite we find that safe states tend to be rewarded. Finally, the appropriation committee membership affects the distribution of broad spending categories like total expenditure per capita and direct payments to individuals, while senior members have a disproportionate impact on grant allocation
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