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Legislative Term Limits and State Aid to Local Governments

  • Yakovlev, Pavel


    (Duquesne University)

  • Tosun, Mehmet S.


    (University of Nevada, Reno)

  • Lewis, William P.

    (Duquesne University)

We estimate the effect of legislative term limits on various categories of state government spending using the most recent panel of 47 states from 1972 to 2005. Besides the usual economic, political, fiscal and demographic factors, we also control for the state tax and expenditure limitations. We find that term limits have a significant positive effect on total state government spending, but no significant positive effect on state education, health, transportation or welfare expenditures. This dichotomy in the estimates raises a very important and previously overlooked question: what budget category is responsible for higher state spending in term-limited states? Our analysis reveals that legislative term limits increase pork-barrel spending, which takes the form of higher transfers from state to local governments. This finding might also imply that legislative term limits lead to more fiscal decentralization.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 6456.

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Length: 30 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6456
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  1. Douglas Holtz-Eakin & Harvey S. Rosen & Schuyler Tilly, 1993. "Intertemporal Analysis of State and Local Government Spending: Theory ad Tests," NBER Working Papers 4261, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Daron Acemoglu & Georgy Egorov & Konstantin Sonin, 2011. "A Political Theory of Populism," Levine's Working Paper Archive 661465000000001179, David K. Levine.
  3. Joseph M. Johnson & W. Mark Crain, 2004. "Effects of Term Limits on Fiscal Performance: Evidence from Democratic Nations," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 119(1_2), pages 73-90, 04.
  4. Michael Smart & Daniel M. Sturm, 2006. "Term limits and electoral accountability," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19771, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  5. Pavel A. Yakovlev, 2011. "In uncertainty we trust: a median voter model with risk aversion," Financial Theory and Practice, Institute of Public Finance, vol. 35(4), pages 465-477.
  6. R Blundell & Steven Bond, . "Initial conditions and moment restrictions in dynamic panel data model," Economics Papers W14&104., Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
  7. Barro, Robert J., 1979. "On the Determination of the Public Debt," Scholarly Articles 3451400, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  8. Arellano, Manuel & Bover, Olympia, 1995. "Another look at the instrumental variable estimation of error-components models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 29-51, July.
  9. Lopez, Edward J, 2003. " Term Limits: Causes and Consequences," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 114(1-2), pages 1-56, January.
  10. Claudio Ferraz & Frederico Finan, 2011. "Electoral Accountability and Corruption: Evidence from the Audits of Local Governments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(4), pages 1274-1311, June.
  11. John C. Driscoll & Aart C. Kraay, 1998. "Consistent Covariance Matrix Estimation With Spatially Dependent Panel Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 80(4), pages 549-560, November.
  12. Timothy Besley & Anne Case, 1995. "Does Electoral Accountability Affect Economic Policy Choices? Evidence from Gubernatorial Term Limits," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(3), pages 769-798.
  13. Skidmore, Mark, 1999. " Tax and Expenditure Limitations and the Fiscal Relationships between State and Local Governments," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 99(1-2), pages 77-102, April.
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