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The Budgetary Repercussions of Capital Convictions

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  • Katherine Baicker

Abstract

Control of public spending and revenues is increasingly being left to states and localities. In order to understand the consequences of such a movement on the distribution of social spending, it is necessary to understand how fiscal distress will affect state and local budgets. This paper exploits the large and unexpected negative shock to county budgets imposed by the presence of capital crime trials, first to understand the real incidence of the cost of capital convictions, and second to uncover the effects of local fiscal distress on the level and distribution of public spending and revenues. I show that these trials are quite costly relative to county budgets, and that the costs are borne in part by reducing expenditures on highways and police and in large part by increasing taxes. The results highlight the vulnerability of county budgets to fiscal shocks: each trial causes an increase in county spending of 1.8 percent and an increase in county revenues of 1.6 percent, implying an increase of more than $1.6 billion in both expenditures and revenues between 1982 and 1997. Using these trials as a source of exogenous variation to examine inter-jurisdictional spillovers, I find significant spillovers of both spending and revenues between counties.

Suggested Citation

  • Katherine Baicker, 2001. "The Budgetary Repercussions of Capital Convictions," NBER Working Papers 8382, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8382
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Phillip B. Levine & David J. Zimmerman, 1999. "An empirical analysis of the welfare magnet debate using the NLSY," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 12(3), pages 391-409.
    2. Orr, Larry L, 1976. "Income Transfers as a Public Good: An Application to AFDC," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 66(3), pages 359-371, June.
    3. Poterba, James M, 1994. "State Responses to Fiscal Crises: The Effects of Budgetary Institutions and Politics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(4), pages 799-821, August.
    4. James M. Poterba, 1997. "Demographic structure and the political economy of public education," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(1), pages 48-66.
    5. George J. Borjas & Lynette Hilton, 1996. "Immigration and the Welfare State: Immigrant Participation in Means-Tested Entitlement Programs," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(2), pages 575-604.
    6. Figlio, David N. & Kolpin, Van W. & Reid, William E., 1999. "Do States Play Welfare Games?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 437-454, November.
    7. Case, Anne C. & Rosen, Harvey S. & Hines, James Jr., 1993. "Budget spillovers and fiscal policy interdependence : Evidence from the states," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(3), pages 285-307, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Baicker, Katherine, 2005. "The spillover effects of state spending," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(2-3), pages 529-544, February.
    2. Katherine Baicker & Mireille Jacobson, 2004. "Finders Keepers: Forfeiture Laws, Policing Incentives, and Local Budgets," NBER Working Papers 10484, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H7 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations
    • K4 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior

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