Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Graduate School


Public Policy and Administration

First Advisor

Dr. Edward T. Jennings, Jr.


This dissertation consists of three essays. The first essay, or Chapter 2, advances the literature by examining the conditional effects of lobbying on the relationship between policy learning and policy reinvention. Scholars have consistently shown that learning of successful policies in other states leads to higher likelihood of policy adoption. This essay extends this finding two ways. First, policy learning can also lead to more comprehensive adoption of successful policies. Second, the effect of policy learning on policy comprehensiveness is conditional on lobbying by interest groups, an alternative source of information about policy success. To test these hypotheses, I conduct a directed dyad-year analysis using a dataset on American state drunk driving regulations from 1983 to 2000. The results show that more comprehensive policy adoption by states is positively related to policy success in other states when lobbying by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is relatively low. Moreover, lobbying by MADD increases policy comprehensiveness when policy success is relatively low.

The second essay, or Chapter 3, examines the effects of GASB 45 on local government borrowing costs. Government financial disclosure is a key instrument to improve fiscal transparency and accountability. In 2004, the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) issued Statement No. 45 to require state and local governments to disclose information about other postemployment benefits (OPEB) for the first time. The theoretical framework incorporates both direct and indirect effects of disclosure on borrowing costs. The empirical tests use a panel of counties across states and the bonds they issued in the primary market between 1999 and 2012. To account for the impact of GASB 45 on county governments’ decisions to issue bonds, a Heckman selection model is estimated. GASB 45 increases borrowing costs of county governments, with the effects decreasing over time. GASB 45 has a larger effect on borrowing costs of county governments issuing bonds of lower credit quality and adopting the generally accepted accounting standards (GAAP).

The third essay, or Chapter 4, examines the impact of information about funding of OPEB plans on borrowing costs of local governments. Local governments have disclosed information about other postemployment benefits (OPEB) plans under the Governmental Accounting Standards Board Statement No. 45 issued in 2004. Funding status is measured by percentage of annual required contribution (ARC) contributed and funded ratios. Two panels of counties and cities with comprehensive annual financial reports available from the Government Financial Officers Association are matched with the bonds they issued between 2008 and 2014. The results show that higher percentage of ARC contributed of OPEB plans are associated with lower borrowing costs for counties; and higher OPEB funded ratios are correlated with lower borrowing costs for cities. Higher percentage of ARC contributed and funded ratios of pension plans are associated with lower borrowing costs for both counties and cities. This essay demonstrates that information about OPEB and pension plans is incorporated in municipal bond pricing.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)