Party Control of State Government and the Distribution of Public Expenditures

23 Pages Posted: 3 Jan 2007

See all articles by Stephen Ansolabehere

Stephen Ansolabehere

Harvard University - Department of Government

James M. Snyder

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Political Science & Department of Economics

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Abstract

This paper examines the effects of party control of state governments on the distribution of intergovernmental transfers across counties from 1957 to 1997. We find that the governing parties skew the distribution of funds in favor of areas that provide them with the strongest electoral support. This is borne out in two ways. (i) Counties that traditionally give the highest vote share to the governing party receive larger shares of state transfers to local governments. (ii) When control of the state government changes, the distribution of funds shifts in the direction of the new governing party. We find only weak evidence that parties reward electorally pivotal counties or counties in electorally pivotal legislative districts. Finally, we find that increased spending in a county increases voter turnout in subsequent elections. This suggests that parties have an electoral incentive to skew the distribution of funds to influence future election results, and the mechanism through which this works is "mobilization" rather than "conversion" of voters in a fixed electorate.

Suggested Citation

Ansolabehere, Stephen and Snyder, James M., Party Control of State Government and the Distribution of Public Expenditures. Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Vol. 108, No. 4, pp. 547-569, December 2006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=954848 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9442.2006.00470.x

Stephen Ansolabehere (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Government ( email )

1737 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

James M. Snyder

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Political Science & Department of Economics ( email )

E53-457
Cambridge, MA 02139
United States
617-253-2669 (Phone)

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