Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor's Name

Cem Karayalcin

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Jesse Bull

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Third Advisor's Name

Mihaela Pintea

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Hassan Zahedi

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member


Economics, Political Economy, Public Economics

Date of Defense



The aim of this dissertation is to explore a number of issues in intergovernmental fiscal relationships in the United States. Three independent essays in the dissertation focus on three different issues of interest in public finance: the response of school districts and county governments to changes in state government grant allocations; political determinants of presidential disaster declarations; and the crowding out of federal transfers to states by private charitable donations with special reference to the proportion of federal welfare grants to all 50 U.S. states over the period 2005 - 2013.

Results in the first essay show that decreases in real per capita state grants cause statistically significant increases in per capita property taxes in Florida counties and school districts. However, the effect is stronger for counties as compared to the school districts. Another major result from this study is that property taxes, a major funding source for public education, decrease when the proportion of the young in total population increases. This could have important consequences for public education funding.

Results from the second essay show that during the sample period, from 2000 to 2013, the average number of days for presidential disaster declarations was lower when the president is a Republican and the governor is a Democrat. The longest time delay in presidential disaster declarations occurred when the president is a Democrat and the governor is a Republican. The study also provides evidence that the higher the incumbent president’s vote share, the shorter is the delay in presidential disaster declarations. Additionally, it is found that the more salient the disaster event is (as measured by the number of newspaper articles per day), the shorter it takes for presidents to declare major disasters.

The third essay provides evidence that state-level charitable contributions correlate significantly with federal public welfare grants to states. An increase in charitable contributions leads to a decrease in the proportion of federal grants allocated to public welfare, controlling for political and demographic factors. The study also shows that the level of crowding out that occurs is significantly higher than that predicted by the previous literature on the subject.





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