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The effects of state budget cuts on employment and income

  • Clemens, Jeffrey
  • Miran, Stephen

Balanced budget requirements lead to substantial pro-cyclicality in state government spending outside of safety-net programs. At the beginnings of recessions, states tend to experience unexpected deficits. While all states ultimately pay these deficits down, differences in the stringency of their balanced budget requirements dictate the pace at which they adjust. States with strict rules enact large rescissions to their budgets during the years in which adverse shocks occur; states with weak rules make up the difference during the following years. We use this variation to identify the impact of mid-year budget cuts on state income and employment. Our baseline estimates imply i) a state-spending multiplier of 1.7 and ii) that avoiding $25,000 in mid-year cuts preserves one job. These cuts are associated with shifts in the timing of government expenditures rather than differences in total spending over the course of the business cycle. Consequently, our results are informative about the potential gains from smoothing the path of state government spending. They imply that states could reduce the amplitude of business-cycle fluctuations by 15% if they completely smoothed their capital spending and service provision outside of safety-net programs.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 38715.

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Date of creation: Aug 2010
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:38715
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  1. Andrew Mountford & Harald Uhlig, 2005. "What are the Effects of Fiscal Policy Shocks?," SFB 649 Discussion Papers SFB649DP2005-039, Sonderforschungsbereich 649, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany.
  2. Alan J. Auerbach & William G. Gale, 2009. "Activist fiscal policy to stabilize economic activity," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 327-374.
  3. Levinson, Arik, 1998. "Balanced Budgets and Business Cycles: Evidence from the States," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 51(n. 4), pages 715-32, December.
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  7. Alan J. Auerbach & Yuriy Gorodnichenko, 2012. "Measuring the Output Responses to Fiscal Policy," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 4(2), pages 1-27, May.
  8. Barro, Robert J., 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Scholarly Articles 3451399, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  9. Timothy J. Bartik, 1991. "Who Benefits from State and Local Economic Development Policies?," Books from Upjohn Press, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, number wbsle, June.
  10. Jaeger, Albert, 1994. "Mechanical Detrending by Hodrick-Prescott Filtering: A Note," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 19(3), pages 493-500.
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  13. Mollerstrom, Johanna Britta & Laibson, David I. & Chauvin, Kyle, 2011. "Asset Bubbles and the Cost of Economic Fluctuations," Scholarly Articles 9938146, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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