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The Multiplier for Federal Spending in the States During the Great Depression

  • Price Fishback (a1) and Valentina Kachanovskaya (a2)

To estimate the impact of federal spending on state incomes, we develop an annual panel data set between 1930 and 1940. Using panel methods we estimate that an added dollar of federal spending in the state increased state per capita income by between 40 and 96 cents. The point estimates for nonfarm grants are higher and for AAA farm grants are much smaller and negative in some cases. The spending led to increase in durable good spending on automobiles but had no positive effects on private employment.

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The research has been funded by National Science Foundation Grants Nos. SES-1061927, SES- 0921732, SES 0617972, and SES 0214483, and funds from the University of Arizona Economics Department. The discussion here does not reflect the views of any of these funding agencies. We thank Josh Angrist, Robert Barro, John Bound, Sandy Dall'Erba, Briggs Depew, Claudia Goldin, Gautam Gowrisankaran, Theresa Gutberlet, Kei Hirano, Taylor Jaworski, Aart Kraay, Shawn Kantor, Carl Kitchens, Larry Katz, Irving Llamasos Rosas, Kris Mitchener, Emi Nakamura, Ron Oaxaca, Valerie Ramey, Paul Rhode, Jón Steinsson, James Stock, John Wallis, Tiemen Woutersen, and several anonymous referees for comments and insights. We also benefited from discussions at seminars at Arizona, Australian National University, the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank, Dartmouth, Georgia, Guelph, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Kenyon, Latrobe, London School of Economics, Michigan, Mississippi, Oxford, Peking, Rhodes, Simon Fraser, UC San Diego, University College London, Vermont, Warrick, and Washington University, as well as presentations at the NBER Summer Institute, the Huntington-All UC Group in Economic History, and the Economic History Society of South Africa. All errors are the authors’ own.

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

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