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How Johnson Fought the War on Poverty: The Economics and Politics of Funding at the Office of Economic Opportunity

  • Martha J. Bailey
  • Nicolas J. Duquette

This paper presents a quantitative analysis of the geographic distribution of spending through the 1964 Economic Opportunity Act (EOA). Using newly assembled state- and county-level data, the results show that the Johnson administration directed funding in ways consistent with the War on Poverty's rhetoric of fighting poverty and racial discrimination: poorer areas and those with a greater share of nonwhite residents received systematically more funding. In contrast to New Deal spending, political variables explain very little of the variation in EOA funding. The smaller role of politics may help explain the strong backlash against the War on Poverty's programs.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w19860.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19860.

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Date of creation: Jan 2014
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19860
Note: DAE LS PE
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  1. Evelyn L. Forget, 2011. "A Tale of Two Communities: Fighting Poverty in the Great Society (1964–68)," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 43(1), pages 199-223, Spring.
  2. Elizabeth Cascio & Nora Gordon & Ethan Lewis & Sarah Reber, 2010. "Paying for Progress: Conditional Grants and the Desegregation of Southern Schools," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 125(1), pages 445-482, February.
  3. Ludwig, Jens & Miller, Douglas L., 2006. "Does Head Start Improve Children's Life Chances? Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity Design," IZA Discussion Papers 2111, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Marilyn Young & Michael Reksulak & William F. Shughart, 2001. "The Political Economy of the IRS," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 13(2), pages 201-220, 07.
  5. Collins, William J. & Margo, Robert A., 2007. "The Economic Aftermath of the 1960s Riots in American Cities: Evidence from Property Values," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 67(04), pages 849-883, December.
  6. Price V. Fishback & Shawn Kantor & John Joseph Wallis, 2002. "Can the New Deal's Three R's Be Rehabilitated? A Program-by-Program, County-by-County Analysis," NBER Working Papers 8903, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Martha J. Bailey, 2012. "Reexamining the Impact of Family Planning Programs on US Fertility: Evidence from the War on Poverty and the Early Years of Title X," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(2), pages 62-97, April.
  8. 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.
  9. Depew, Briggs & Fishback, Price V. & Rhode, Paul W., 2013. "New deal or no deal in the Cotton South: The effect of the AAA on the agricultural labor structure," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 50(4), pages 466-486.
  10. Whatley, Warren C., 1987. "Southern Agrarian Labor Contracts as Impediments to Cotton Mechanization," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 47(01), pages 45-70, March.
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