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On the Relationship Between Mobility, Population Growth, and Capital Spending in the United States

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  • Marco Bassetto
  • Leslie McGranahan

Abstract

In this paper, we investigate the relationship between public capital spending and population dynamics at the state level. Empirically, we document two robust facts. First, states with faster population growth do not spend more (per capita) to accommodate the needs of their growing population. Second, states whose population is more likely to leave do tend to spend more per capita than states with low gross emigration rates. To interpret these facts, we introduce an explicit, quantitative political-economy model of government spending determination, where mobility and population growth generate departures from Ricardian equivalence by shifting some of the costs and benefits of public projects to future residents. The magnitude of the empirical response of capital spending to mobility is at the upper end of what can be explained by the theory with a plausible calibration. In the model, more mobile voters favor more spending because the maturity of states' debt is very long term and costs are shifted into the future more than benefits.

Suggested Citation

  • Marco Bassetto & Leslie McGranahan, 2011. "On the Relationship Between Mobility, Population Growth, and Capital Spending in the United States," NBER Working Papers 16970, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16970
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Marco Battaglini & Stephen Coate, 2007. "Inefficiency in Legislative Policymaking: A Dynamic Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(1), pages 118-149, March.
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    4. Ruediger Bachmann & Jinhui Bai, 2013. "Politico-Economic Inequality and the Comovement of Government Purchases," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 16(4), pages 565-580, October.
    5. Barseghyan, Levon & Battaglini, Marco & Coate, Stephen, 2013. "Fiscal policy over the real business cycle: A positive theory," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 148(6), pages 2223-2265.
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    10. Marco Bassetto & Vadym Lepetyuk, 2007. "Government investment and the European stability and growth pact," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Q III, pages 33-43.
    11. Timothy Besley & Torsten Persson & Daniel M. Sturm, 2010. "Political Competition, Policy and Growth: Theory and Evidence from the United States," CEP Discussion Papers dp1009, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    12. Marco Bassetto, 2006. "Politics and Efficiency of Separating Capital and Ordinary Government Budgets," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(4), pages 1167-1210.
    13. Marco Bassetto, 2008. "Public investment and budget rules for state vs. local governments," Working Paper Series WP-08-21, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
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    16. Ruediger Bachmann & Jinhui Bai, 2013. "Politico-Economic Inequality and the Comovement of Government Purchases," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 16(4), pages 565-580, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Marina Azzimonti, 2015. "The dynamics of public investment under persistent electoral advantage," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 18(3), pages 653-678, July.
    2. Giuseppe Bertola, 2011. "The Role of the State in Society - Government vs. Citizen Responsibility," CESifo Forum, Ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 12(3), pages 32-37, December.
    3. Busilac, Aileen Jean & Deluna, Roperto Jr, 2013. "The Relationship between Population Dynamics and Investments for Energy and Telecommunication Infrastructures in the Philippines," MPRA Paper 51845, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Holmes, Thomas J. & Ohanian, Lee E., 2014. "Pay with Promises or Pay as You Go? Lessons from the Death Spiral of Detroit," Staff Report 501, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    5. Marina Azzimonti, 2015. "The dynamics of public investment under persistent electoral advantage," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 18(3), pages 653-678, July.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • H71 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue

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