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Do Small States Get More Federal Monies? Myth and Reality about the US Senate Malapportionment

Larcinese, Valentino and Rizzo, Leonzio and Testa, Cecilia (2007): Do Small States Get More Federal Monies? Myth and Reality about the US Senate Malapportionment.


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We analyze the relationship between senate malapportionment and the allocation of the US federal budget to the states during the period 1978-2002. A substantial literature originating from the in�uential paper by Atlas et al. (1995), using a within estimation methodology �nds that small and overrepresented states get signi�cantly larger shares of federal funds. Revisiting the econometric speci�cation used by the current empiri- cal research, we show that the number of senators percapita is inappropriate to capture malapportionement in regressions using broad federal programs, and that the results ob- tained with this indicator are extremely non-robust to reasonable speci�cation changes. In particular, senators percapita have a signi�cant impact on federal spending only in re- gressions containing state �xed e¤ects. Furthermore, the coefficients estimated using the within methodology are statistically di¤erent across states and, therefore, cannot be used to assess spending differentials between states. The magnitude and signi�cance of those coe¢ cients suggest a within state-speci�c inverse relationship between broad spending categories and population which is not systematically related to the size of the states and seems more compatible with incrementalist theories of budget allocation.

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