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In Search of the Multiplier for Federal Spending in the States During the Great Depression

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  • Price V. Fishback
  • Valentina Kachanovskaya

Abstract

If there was any time to expect a large peace-time multiplier effect from federal spending in the states, it would have been during the period from 1930 through 1940. Interest rates were near the zero bound, and unemployment rates never fell below 10 percent and there was ample idle capacity. We develop an annual panel data set for the 48 states from 1930 through 1940 with evidence on federal government grants, loans, and tax collections and a variety of measures of economic activity. Using panel data methods we estimate a multiplier, defined as the change in per capita state economic activity in response to an additional dollar per capita of federal funds. The state per capita personal income multiplier with respect to per capita federal grants was around 1.1. Some point estimates for multipliers for nontransfer grants and nonfarm grants were higher but not statistically significantly different from one. There is some evidence that AAA farm grants had negative or no effect on personal income. Federal grants had stronger effects on consumption than on personal income, but they had no positive effect on various measures of private employment.

Suggested Citation

  • Price V. Fishback & Valentina Kachanovskaya, 2010. "In Search of the Multiplier for Federal Spending in the States During the Great Depression," NBER Working Papers 16561, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16561 Note: DAE
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    Cited by:

    1. Fidel Perez-Sebastian & Ohad Raveh & Yaniv Reingewertz, 2015. "Heterogeneous Vertical Tax Externalities, Capital Mobility, and the Fiscal Advantage of Natural Resources," OxCarre Working Papers 160, Oxford Centre for the Analysis of Resource Rich Economies, University of Oxford.
    2. Alexander Ljungqvist & Michael Smolyansky, 2014. "To Cut or Not to Cut? On the Impact of Corporate Taxes on Employment and Income," NBER Working Papers 20753, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Sylvain Leduc & Daniel Wilson, 2013. "Roads to Prosperity or Bridges to Nowhere? Theory and Evidence on the Impact of Public Infrastructure Investment," NBER Macroeconomics Annual, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(1), pages 89-142.
    4. Valerie A. Ramey, 2011. "Can Government Purchases Stimulate the Economy?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 49(3), pages 673-685, September.
    5. Oh, Hyunseung & Reis, Ricardo, 2012. "Targeted transfers and the fiscal response to the great recession," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(S), pages 50-64.
    6. Owyang, Michael T. & Zubairy, Sarah, 2013. "Who benefits from increased government spending? A state-level analysis," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(3), pages 445-464.
    7. Jonathan F. Fox, 2011. "Public health, poor relief and improving urban child mortality outcomes in the decade prior to the New Deal," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2011-005, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    8. Lauren Cohen & Karl B. Diether & Christopher Malloy, 2012. "Legislating Stock Prices," NBER Working Papers 18291, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Hong, Cheng-Yih & Li, Jian-Fa, 2015. "On measuring the effects of fiscal policy in global financial crisis: Evidences from an export-oriented island economy," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 412-415.
    10. repec:aea:aejpol:v:9:y:2017:i:2:p:189-227 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Jan Fidrmuc & Sugata Ghosh & Weonho Yang, 2015. "Natural Disasters, Government Spending, and the Fiscal Multiplier," CESifo Working Paper Series 5665, CESifo Group Munich.
    12. repec:eee:macchp:v2-2417 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Fuchs-Schündeln, N. & Hassan, T.A., 2016. "Natural Experiments in Macroeconomics," Handbook of Macroeconomics, Elsevier.
    14. Bernd Hayo & Matthias Uhl, 2015. "Regional effects of federal tax shocks," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 82(2), pages 343-360, October.
    15. Hill, Matthew J., 2015. "Easterlin revisited: Relative income and the baby boom," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 71-85.
    16. Aart Kraay, 2012. "How large is the Government Spending Multiplier? Evidence from World Bank Lending," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(2), pages 829-887.
    17. repec:eco:journ2:2017-04-17 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. Emi Nakamura & J?n Steinsson, 2014. "Fiscal Stimulus in a Monetary Union: Evidence from US Regions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(3), pages 753-792, March.
    19. Lin, Justin Yifu & Doemeland, Doerte, 2012. "Beyond Keynesianism : global infrastructure investments in times of crisis," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5940, The World Bank.
    20. Blomquist , Johan & Nordin, Martin, 2013. "Do the CAP Subsidies Increase Employment in Sweden? Estimating the Open Economy Relative Multiplier Using an Exogenous Change in the CAP," Working Papers 2013:41, Lund University, Department of Economics.
    21. Sylvain Leduc & Daniel J. Wilson, 2012. "Should transportation spending be included in a stimulus program? a review of the literature," Working Paper Series 2012-15, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H50 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - General
    • N12 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • N42 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • R11 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Regional Economic Activity: Growth, Development, Environmental Issues, and Changes

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