Working Papers on Federalism & Public Policy

I have just posted a couple of my working papers to SSRN for those who are interested. They are as follows:

  1. Public Policy and Quality of Life: An Empirical Analysis of Interstate Migration, 2000-2012
    Individuals and households choose their political jurisdiction of residence on the basis of expected income differentials and jurisdiction-specific characteristics covered by the general term “amenities.” In addition to fixed characteristics like climate and terrain, amenities may include public policies, as in the well-known Tiebout model of migration. Do Americans reveal preferences for certain public policies by tending to migrate toward jurisdictions that offer them? This article tests whether state government involvement in fiscal policy, business regulation, and civil and personal liberties more often reflects an amenity or a disamenity for Americans willing to move. As identification strategies, the article estimates spatial, matched-neighbors, and dyadic models of net interstate migration for all 50 states, covering the years 2000-2012. The evidence suggests that cost of living, which is in turn strongly correlated with land-use regulation, strongly deters in-migration, while both fiscal and regulatory components of “economic freedom” attract new residents. There is less robust evidence that “personal freedom” attracts residents.
  2. Civil Libertarianism-Communitarianism: A State Policy Ideology Dimension
    This paper investigates the existence of a second dimension of state policy ideology orthogonal to the traditional left-right dimension: civil libertarianism-communitarianism. It argues that voter attitudes toward nonviolent acts that are sometimes crimes, particularly weapons and drugs offenses, are in part distinct from their liberal or conservative ideologies, and cause systematic variation in states’ policies toward these acts. The hypotheses are tested with a structural equation model of state policies that combines “confirmatory factor analysis” with linear regression. The existence of a second dimension of state policy essentially uncorrelated with left-right ideology and loading onto gun control, marijuana, and other criminal justice policies is confirmed. Moreover, this dimension of policy ideology relates in the expected fashion to urbanization and the strength of ideological libertarianism in the state electorate. The results suggest that the libertarian-communitarian divide represents an enduring dimension of policy-making in the United States.

5 thoughts on “Working Papers on Federalism & Public Policy

  1. WordPress ate my first comment, damnit.

    Trying to rebuild it.

    First, you have a cluster of communitarian and liberal states (NY, MA, NJ, RI, CT, CA, HI, MD, DE, and IL) that are also some of the higher profile states involved in legalization of medical marijuana and bans on the death penalty. It seems you are throwing a lot of state policies together into your communitarian-civil libertarian spectrum, with the outcome sometimes having the more minor/obscure issues overwhelming the high profile ones. Any evidence that your cluster of issues are actually clusters, issues that correlate together and should be viewed as part of a package?

    Second, just an observation, but look at Obama’s plunge in approval among Northeast whites:

    Could be something to be said about even more traditional liberal voters in the Northeast responding negatively to the Zimmerman trial and the President’s comments on it if they are coming from a communitarian perspective.

    1. On your second point, I really couldn’t say. What you suggest seems plausible, but my impression is that Obama’s approval rating has been declining for several weeks now, since the IRS scandal broke. On the first, check out Table 1 in the paper. Gun control is obviously strongly related to the communitarian dimension, but so are pot laws, drug arrests, and a few other things.

      1. I don’t know if I’m convinced though by being statistically significant for six out of 16 non-firearms policies. It’s interesting that you have seven more policies that have the expected sign, but the concern is still there that if they are only weakly correlated, including them could drown out what could be a different relationship if you only looked at firearm policies and the other significant six other policies.

        The death penalty, for example, is better explained by policy liberalism, and the coefficient estimate is close to zero anyway with communitarianism. I don’t think your paper discusses that this finding doesn’t seem to fit with your original hypothesis. The ideological reasons you propose for the death penalty to be correlated with civil libertarianism aren’t supported, it seems that the death penalty has joined a long list of issues that could be seen as originally orthogonal to the left-right spectrum but have become adopted by the left-right divide.

        The same for policies related to marijuana and salvia. Liberalism seems to explain them better than communitarianism.

      2. I don’t disagree. I’m just trying to find out whether this dimension explains something in addition to the left-right dimension. It explains a lot less than does the left-right dimension overall, but it still explains something.

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