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Are State Governments Roadblocks to Federal Stimulus? Evidence on the Flypaper Effect of Highway Grants in the 2009 Recovery Act

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  • Sylvain Leduc
  • Daniel J. Wilson

Abstract

We examine how state governments adjusted spending in response to the large temporary increase in federal grants under the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). We concentrate our analysis on ARRA highway grants, which were especially likely to crowd out states? own highway funding given the lack of matching requirements and according to past research on federal highway grants. The mechanism used to apportion ARRA highway grants to states allows us to isolate exogenous changes in these grants. In addition, we show that the original 1944 proposed layout of the interstate highway system strongly predicts the cross-state distribution of the ARRA highway grants and we use this layout as an alternative instrument. We find that states increased highway spending in 2010 nearly dollar-for-dollar with their apportioned grants, implying little if any crowd-out. Moreover, we find that over the entire 2009-2011 period, ARRA highway grants crowded in highway spending, resulting in roughly two dollars in spending for each dollar in grants. We show that our results are not unique to the ARRA period, but rather are consistent with a strong effect from grants dating back at least to the early 1980s. This latter result contrasts with earlier research (Knight 2002) and we document the sources of the difference.

Suggested Citation

  • Sylvain Leduc & Daniel J. Wilson, 2013. "Are State Governments Roadblocks to Federal Stimulus? Evidence on the Flypaper Effect of Highway Grants in the 2009 Recovery Act," Working Paper Series 2013-16, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedfwp:2013-16
    DOI: 10.24148/wp2013-16
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    Cited by:

    1. Emma Hooper & Sanjay Peters & Patrick Pintus, 2018. "The Causal Effect of Infrastructure Investments on Income Inequality: Evidence from US States," Working Papers halshs-01684565, HAL.
    2. Mario Crucini & Nam Vu, . "Did the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Help Counties Most Affected by the Great Recession?," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics.
    3. Miquel-Àngel Garcia-López & Ilias Pasidis & Elisabet Viladecans-Marsal, 2020. "Congestion in highways when tolls and railroads matter: evidence from European cities," Working Papers 2020/11, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
    4. Gerald A. Carlino & Robert P. Inman, 2013. "Macro fiscal policy in economic unions: states as agents," Working Papers 13-40, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
    5. Congressional Budget Office, 2018. "Fiscal Substitution of Investment for Highway Infrastructure: Working Paper 2018-08," Working Papers 54371, Congressional Budget Office.
    6. Chen, Zhuo & He, Zhiguo & Liu, Chun, 2020. "The financing of local government in China: Stimulus loan wanes and shadow banking waxes," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 137(1), pages 42-71.
    7. Jordà, Òscar & Schularick, Moritz & Taylor, Alan M., 2015. "Betting the house," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(S1), pages 2-18.
    8. Reingewertz, Yaniv, 2014. "Fiscal Decentralization - a Survey of the Empirical Literature," MPRA Paper 59889, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Nguyen, Thuy Lan, 2020. "Comments on “Regional Data in Macroeconomics: Advice for Practitioners”," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 115(C).
    10. Berset, Simon & Schelker, Mark, 2020. "Fiscal windfall curse," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 130(C).
    11. Masami Imai, 2020. "Local Economic Impacts of Legislative Malapportionment," Wesleyan Economics Working Papers 2020-002, Wesleyan University, Department of Economics.
    12. Emma Hooper & Sanjay Peters & Patrick A. Pintus, 2021. "The impact of infrastructure investments on income inequality: Evidence from US states," Economics of Transition and Institutional Change, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 29(2), pages 227-256, April.
    13. Aleksandr Alekseev & James Alm & Vjollca Sadiraj & David L. Sjoquist, 2020. "Experiments on the Fly," Experimental Economics Center Working Paper Series 2020-04, Experimental Economics Center, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
    14. Chodorow-Reich, Gabriel, 2020. "Regional data in macroeconomics: Some advice for practitioners," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 115(C).
    15. Carlino, Gerald & Drautzburg, Thorsten & Inman, Robert & Zarra, Nicholas, 2020. "Partisanship and Fiscal Policy in Federal Unions: Evidence from US States," VfS Annual Conference 2020 (Virtual Conference): Gender Economics 224550, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    16. Barbara Klein & Klaas Staal, 2017. "Was the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act an Economic Stimulus?," International Advances in Economic Research, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 23(4), pages 395-404, November.
    17. Clemens, Jeffrey & Cutler, David M., 2014. "Who pays for public employee health costs?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 65-76.
    18. Mikkel Plagborg‐Møller & Christian K. Wolf, 2021. "Local Projections and VARs Estimate the Same Impulse Responses," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 89(2), pages 955-980, March.
    19. Garin, Andrew, 2019. "Putting America to work, where? Evidence on the effectiveness of infrastructure construction as a locally targeted employment policy," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 108-131.
    20. Chang Liu & Guangrong Ma, 2016. "Taxation without representation: local fiscal response to intergovernmental transfers in China," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 23(5), pages 854-874, October.
    21. Becker, Johannes & Hopp, Daniel & Kriebel, Michael, 2020. "Mental accounting of public funds – The flypaper effect in the lab," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 176(C), pages 321-336.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Public investments; Infrastructure (Economics); Roads; State finance; American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H54 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Infrastructures
    • H76 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Other Expenditure Categories
    • R42 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - Government and Private Investment Analysis; Road Maintenance; Transportation Planning
    • R53 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Regional Government Analysis - - - Public Facility Location Analysis; Public Investment and Capital Stock

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