Publication Date

April 2012


Joyce Jacobsen


Economics (ECON)


English (United States)


In this study I test several assertions commonly made about Republican and Democratic spending preferences. Specifically, using annual data from 1971–2001, I examine how party control at the state level affects overall expenditure growth and the shares of expenditure allotted to various classes of programs, including education, welfare, healthcare, transportation, and public safety. I incorporate into my regressions a wide array of control variables and statistical corrections, including explicit modeling of spatial dependency. My results generally align with political rhetoric and prior research. Democrats appear to spend significantly more on welfare and education and less on public safety than Republicans. However, I also find that Democratic control of government causes less expansion of the public sector, in opposition to what many believe. The robustness of this result is relatively low, though, and the coefficient may be simply an artifact of my methodology and sample choice.



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