Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Applied Economics


Maloney, Michael T.

Committee Member

Maloney , Michael T.

Committee Member

Tollison , Robert D.

Committee Member

Warner , John T.

Committee Member

Lindsay , Cotton M.


The following essays in public choice are concerned with two main subjects: changes in public educational quality due to competition from surrounding private schools and the settings that foster increased interest group activity and what impact that activity has on the relative economic development of US states. While these subjects may seem varied, they are both important in understanding differences in economic development.
Education has long been associated with economic expansion, so it is important to understand the impacts that private markets for education have on its public provision. In Chapter II, I look at whether there are competitive effects on public schools in California due to the existence of surrounding private schools, and if these effects induce public schools to provide a better education to students. If public institutions are prone to respond to competitive pressures, there is a timing issue that may prevent immediate improvements. Since public schools are likely to take time to respond to competitive pressures, I use lagged private school enrollment as an explanatory variable for public school test scores. My results indicate that public schools do respond to higher degrees of competition from surrounding private schools, but that the effects are delayed.
The latter two chapters discuss topics under the special interest group theory of government. This theory holds that special interest groups dissipate real resources in the economy by paying for favorable legislation and transfers of wealth from the government through lobbying. To demonstrate evidence for this theory, I first provide a study on the settings that foster interest group accumulation across US states. This study uses panel data for US states over the time period 1990-2005 to explain those factors that lead to the formation of interest groups.
The number of trade associations is used to proxy the number of interest groups and my results show that population differences, socioeconomic development, differences in the structure of legislature, government and industry, and public spending are important factors in determining interest group formation. Additional evidence is provided to measure the impact interest group activity has on economic development. Several measures of economic development are used including the number of initial public offerings (IPOs) per state. I find that interest group activity through the constitution and through the legislature have overall negative impacts on all measures of development.

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