Megan Mullin
Associate Professor of Political Science
Temple University

I am an Associate Professor of Political Science and a faculty affiliate in the Department of Geography and Urban Studies and the Institute for Public Affairs at Temple University. My research focuses on American politics and public policy, with emphasis on state and local politics, environmental politics, and voting systems.

My work has appeared in journals including American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, Political Analysis, and the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, as well as in numerous edited volumes. My book, Governing the Tap: Special District Governance and the New Local Politics of Water (MIT Press, 2009), examines the impact of governmental organization on policies for the sustainable use of water resources in American communities. It was the 2010 winner of the Lynton Keith Caldwell Award for best book published on environmental politics and policy. My research has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the Haynes Foundation, and the JEHT Foundation, and has received numerous awards from the American Political Science Association's organized sections.  I received my Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 2005.


Local water infrastructure in the United States has long been underfunded, creating operational vulnerabilities that jeopardize public health and environmental quality. Megan Mullin will present research on the effectiveness of financial assistance from the federal government in stimulating local investment in water infrastructure. Theories of fiscal federalism predict that grants from a central government should have greater effect on subnational spending for goods whose benefits spill over into neighboring jurisdictions, because those goods are less likely to be provided from the private income of community residents. Evidence from two nearly identical loan programs--one for wastewater infrastructure and one for drinking water infrastructure--demonstrates that federally subsidized infrastructure loans have a large and significant effect on local wastewater investments whose benefits spill over to downstream communities, but not on drinking water expenditures whose benefits are mostly concentrated in the immediate jurisdiction. Moreover, the stimulus effect of wastewater grants varies with the number of cities discharging into the same watershed. These discoveries have important implications for our understanding of fiscal federalism and for the design of public policy intended to promote investment in water quality protection.

You are invited to stay for a reception following the forum.