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The power of the purse: what do the data say on US federal budget allocation to the states?"

  • Cecilia Testa
  • Valentino Larcinse
  • Leonzio Rizzo

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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Paper provided by Econometric Society in its series Econometric Society 2004 Latin American Meetings with number 151.

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Date of creation: 11 Aug 2004
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Handle: RePEc:ecm:latm04:151
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  1. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 2004. "Constitutional Rules and Fiscal Policy Outcomes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 25-45, March.
  2. Tabellini, Guido & Alesina, Alberto, 1990. "A Positive Theory of Fiscal Deficits and Government Debt," Scholarly Articles 3612769, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  3. Dahlberg, M. & Johansson, E., 1999. "On the Vote Purchasing Behavior of Incumbent Governments," Papers 1999:24, Uppsala - Working Paper Series.
  4. Timothy Besley & Anne Case, 1993. "Does Electoral Accountability Affect Economic Policy Choices? Evidence from Gubernatorial Term Limits," NBER Working Papers 4575, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Alvarez, Michael R. & Saving, Jason, 1995. "Congressional Committees and the Political Economy of Federal Outlays," Working Papers 898, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  6. Torsten Persson & Gerard Roland & Guido Tabellini, . "Separation of Powers and Political Accountability," Working Papers 100, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  7. Wright, Gavin, 1974. "The Political Economy of New Deal Spending: An Econometric Analysis," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 56(1), pages 30-38, February.
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