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Jel Classification:H40 

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Abbott and Bacon Districts: education finances during the Great Recession

In the State of New Jersey, any child between the age of five and eighteen has the constitutional right to a thorough and efficient education. The State of New Jersey also has one of the country?s most rigid policies regarding a balanced budget come fiscal end. When state and local revenues took a big hit in the most recent recession, officials had to make tough decisions about education spending. This paper exploits rich panel data and trend-shift analysis to analyze how school finances in the Abbott and Bacon School Districts, as well as the high-poverty districts in general, were affected ...
Staff Reports , Paper 573

Working Paper
Have Distressed Neighborhoods Recovered? Evidence from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program

During the 2007-2009 housing crisis, concentrations of foreclosed and vacant properties created severe blight in many cities and neighborhoods. The federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) was established to help mitigate distress in hard-hit areas by funding the rehabilitation or demolition of troubled properties. This paper analyzes housing market changes in areas that received investments during the second round of NSP funding, focusing on seven large urban counties. Grantees used NSP to invest in census tracts with high rates of distressed and vacancy properties, and tracts that ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2015-16

Working Paper
Fewer Vacants, Fewer Crimes? Impacts of Neighborhood Revitalization Policies on Crime

The relationship between neighborhood physical environment and social disorder, particularly crime, is of critical interest to urban economists and sociologists, as well as local governments. Over the past 50 years, various policy interventions to improve physical conditions in distressed neighborhoods have also been heralded for their potential to reduce crime. Urban renewal programs in the mid-20th century and public housing redevelopment in the 1990s both subscribed to the idea that signs of physical disorder invite social disorder. More recently, the federal Neighborhood Stabilization ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2015-88

Report
Optimal Progressivity with Age-Dependent Taxation

This paper studies optimal taxation of labor earnings when the degree of tax progressivity is allowed to vary with age. We analyze this question in a tractable equilibrium overlapping-generations model that incorporates a number of salient trade-offs in tax design. Tax progressivity provides insurance against ex-ante heterogeneity and earnings uncertainty that missing markets fail to deliver. However, taxes distort labor supply and human capital investments. Uninsurable risk cumulates over the life cycle, and thus the welfare gains from income compression via progressive taxation increase ...
Staff Report , Paper 551

Report
Optimal Tax Progressivity: An Analytical Framework

What shapes the optimal degree of progressivity of the tax and transfer system? On the one hand, a progressive tax system can counteract inequality in initial conditions and substitute for imperfect private insurance against idiosyncratic earnings risk. At the same time, progressivity reduces incentives to work and to invest in skills, and aggravates the externality associated with valued public expenditures. We develop a tractable equilibrium model that features all of these trade-offs. The analytical expressions we derive for social welfare deliver a transparent understanding of how ...
Staff Report , Paper 496

Report
Still not out of the woods? New Jersey schools during the recession and beyond

Schools are essential in forming human capital and in improving the long-term health of the economy. They are also heavily reliant on state and local funds, which were severely depleted during the Great Recession. To alleviate some of the strain on local budgets, the federal government passed and implemented a large stimulus package, which included funds for school districts. However, the stimulus funds were drawn down beginning in 2011, at a time when state and local revenues were still under pressure. In this paper, we use a detailed panel data set of all school districts in New Jersey for ...
Staff Reports , Paper 632

Report
The long road to recovery: New York Schools in the aftermath of the Great Recession

Schools play a crucial role in human capital development, and were one of the many elements of government adversely affected by the Great Recession. Using a rich panel data set of New York State school districts and a trend-shift analysis, we examine how the funding and expenditure dynamics of districts have changed in the four years since the recession hit. We find that although the stimulus prevented major cuts to expenditures while it was in place, once the stimulus funding was used up districts faced strong budget constraints and made deep cuts to their expenditures. While state and local ...
Staff Reports , Paper 631

Report
Did cuts in state aid during the Great Recession lead to changes in local property taxes?

During the Great Recession and its aftermath, state and local governments? revenue streams dried up due to diminished taxes. Budget cuts affected many aspects of government; in this paper, we investigate whether (and how) local school districts modified their funding and taxing decisions in response to changes in state aid in the post-recession period. Using detailed district-level panel data from New York and a fixed effects as well as an instrumental variables strategy, we find strong evidence that school districts did indeed respond to state aid cuts in the post-recession period by ...
Staff Reports , Paper 643

Report
The impact of the Great Recession on school district finances: evidence from New York

Despite education?s fundamental role in human capital formation and growth, there is no research that examines the effect of the Great Recession (or any other recession) on schools. Our paper begins to fill this gap. Exploiting detailed data on school finance indicators and an analysis of trend shifts, we examine how the Great Recession affected school funding in New York State. While we find no evidence of effects on either total revenue or expenditure, there were important compositional changes to both. There is strong evidence of substitution of funds on the revenue side?the infusion of ...
Staff Reports , Paper 534

Report
How Do Voters Respond to Welfare vis-à-vis Public Good Programs? An Empirical Test for Clientelism

This paper examines allocation of benefits under local government programs in West Bengal, India to isolate patterns consistent with political clientelism. Using household survey data, we find that voters respond positively to private welfare benefits but not to local public good programs, while reporting having benefited from both. Consistent with the voting patterns, shocks to electoral competition induced by exogenous redistricting of villages resulted in upper-tier governments manipulating allocations across local governments only for welfare programs. Through the lens of a hierarchical ...
Staff Report , Paper 605

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