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School of Environment and Natural Resources


Spatial Inequalities in the Fiscal Distribution of the U.S. Welfare State

Jun 23, 2015, 2:00pm - 3:00pm

A Graduate Defense Seminar will be presented by Danielle Deemer, PhD Candidate on Tuesday (6/23) at 2:00 p.m. in 245 Kottman Hall. Danielle will present Spatial Inequalities in the Fiscal Distribution of the U.S. Welfare State.

Federal “welfare state” programs contribute to the development and well-being of communities across the U.S. by re-distributing tax revenue in the form of social programs and economic development programs. Public and scholarly interest in state- led development is growing, especially as recent civil unrest has highlighted the state’s underinvestment in infrastructure, housing, and employment opportunities in communities of color. While many studies probe inequalities in the content and availability of social and community economic development programs at the state and county levels, few studies examine how the money associated with these programs is distributed sub-nationally. It is important to understand the fiscal distribution of social programs because inequalities in investment may impede the long-term economic development and well-being of under-served communities. This dissertation contributes to this area of the social policy literature by illuminating inequalities in the fiscal distribution of federal social programs and community economic development programs at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Multivariate analysis is carried out on federal expenditure data for approximately 3,000 counties. As expected from the conceptual framework, per capita income transfers and federal place-based development outlays are significantly lower where business class interests are stronger and higher where bureaucracies are larger. These findings suggest that the state can shape social expenditures independently of class interests. This study contributes to our understanding of the spatial patterns of federal investment and informs efforts to conceptualize spatial inequalities in the welfare state. The findings have significant implications for the long-term development of communities and for the allocation of federal social programs.