Working Papers

2013-16 | April 2016


Are State Governments Roadblocks to Federal Stimulus? Evidence on the Flypaper Effect of Highway Grants in the 2009 Recovery Act


We examine how state governments adjusted spending in response to the large temporary increase in federal highway grants under the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The mechanism used to apportion ARRA highway grants to states allows us to isolate exogenous changes in these grants. We find that states increased highway spending over 2009 to 2011 more than dollar-for-dollar with the ARRA grants they received. We examine whether rent- seeking efforts could help explain this result. We find states with more political contributions from the public-works sector tended to spend more out of their ARRA highway funds than other states.

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