Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Nukpezah, Julius A.

Committee Member

Potter, Michael R.

Committee Member

Abutabenjeh, Sawsan

Other Advisors or Committee Members

French, P. Edward

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Public Policy & Administration

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Political Science and Public Administration


Numerous studies have examined the effect of natural disasters and social vulnerability indicators on broad factors using different theoretical frameworks; however, no study synthesizes a framework of theories to comprehensively examine the nexus among natural disasters, social vulnerability, subsidiarity principle, and government finance in the U.S. The dissertation utilizes a broad framework of theories to address two objectives of the dissertation namely the determinants of (1) infrastructure investment and (2) public assistance programs.

Using panel data from 50 U.S states over a 17-time period (2000 – 2017), the first objective of the study investigates the determinants of infrastructure investment using a synthesis of theories. The study maintains that state infrastructure investment is not necessarily because of disaster punctuations but economic prosperity. The findings paint a picture of a proactive government that is perhaps prepared and does not act necessarily because of disaster events. The objective of the second study investigates the determinants of public assistance receipt assessed in 4 ways. The study maintains that subsidiarity assistance is influenced by both disasters and social vulnerabilities. However, disaggregating subsidiarity assistance into its sub-components (total public assistance, emergency work funds, permanent work funds, and intergovernmental transfers) provide a nuanced understanding of public assistance receipt. Federally declared disasters are strongly associated with disaster-relief forms of assistance, but not a significant determinant of intergovernmental transfers. Social vulnerability indicators, more especially – poverty, inequality (Gini), political influence, income, and infrastructure investment positively influence the receipt of federal intergovernmental transfers. The findings demonstrate that federal allocation of subsidiarity assistance follows a formula in terms of addressing wicked problems related to disasters and social vulnerabilities. In addition, the dissertation finds that disaster impact and social vulnerability theory additively explains the subsidiarity principle of U.S. federal government assistance programs to subnational governments.

The dissertation contributes to theory, policy and management practices, and enlightens scholars and policymakers on the vital factors that stimulate state infrastructure investment and federal assistance receipt for best policy practice. Policymakers must constantly modify funding policies and effectively utilize tax-payer dollars following a formula to respond to jurisdictional vulnerabilities and public service needs