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Public goods and ethnic divisions

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Author Info

  • Alesina, Alberto
  • Baqir, Reza
  • Easterly, William

Abstract

The authors present a model that links heterogeneity of preferences across ethnic groups in a city to the amount and type of public good the city supplies. Results show that the shares of spending on productive public goods - education, roads, sewers, and trash pickup _ in U.S. cities (metro areas/urban counties) are inversely related to the city's (metro area's/county's) ethnic fragmentation, even after controlling for other socioeconomic and demographic determinants. They conclude that the ethnic conflict is an important determinant of local public finances. In cities where ethnic groups are polarized, and where politicians have ethnic constituencies, the share of spending that goes to public goods is low. Their results are driven mainly by how white-majority cities react to varying minority-groups sizes. Voters choose lower public goods when a significant fraction of tax revenues collected from one ethnic group is used to provide public goods shared with other ethnic groups.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 2108.

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Date of creation: 31 May 1999
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:2108

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Related research

Keywords: Public Sector Economics&Finance; Environmental Economics&Policies; Economic Theory&Research; Decentralization; Public Health Promotion; Inequality; Environmental Economics&Policies; Public Sector Economics&Finance; Economic Theory&Research; Economic Stabilization;

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References

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  1. Benabou, Roland, 1996. "Equity and Efficiency in Human Capital Investment: The Local Connection," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 63(2), pages 237-64, April.
  2. Alberto Alesina & Reza Baqir & William Easterly, 1998. "Redistributive Public Employment," NBER Working Papers 6746, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Roland Benabou, 1991. "Workings of a City: Location, Education, and Production," NBER Technical Working Papers 0113, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Rubinfeld, Daniel L & Shapiro, Perry & Roberts, Judith, 1987. "Tiebout Bias and the Demand for Local Public Schooling," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 69(3), pages 426-37, August.
  5. Cutler, David M & Glaeser, Edward L, 1997. "Are Ghettos Good or Bad?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(3), pages 827-72, August.
  6. Easterly, William & Levine, Ross, 1997. "Africa's Growth Tragedy: Policies and Ethnic Divisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1203-50, November.
  7. Alberto Alesina & Enrico Spolaore, 1995. "On the Number and Size of Nations," NBER Working Papers 5050, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Epple, Dennis & Romer, Thomas, 1991. "Mobility and Redistribution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(4), pages 828-58, August.
  9. Perotti, Roberto, 1996. " Growth, Income Distribution, and Democracy: What the Data Say," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 1(2), pages 149-87, June.
  10. James M. Poterba, 1996. "Demographic Structure and the Political Economy of Public Education," NBER Working Papers 5677, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Mauro, Paolo, 1995. "Corruption and Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(3), pages 681-712, August.
  12. Meltzer, Allan H & Richard, Scott F, 1981. "A Rational Theory of the Size of Government," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 914-27, October.
  13. Weingast, Barry R & Shepsle, Kenneth A & Johnsen, Christopher, 1981. "The Political Economy of Benefits and Costs: A Neoclassical Approach to Distributive Politics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(4), pages 642-64, August.
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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Short thoughts, mostly about the decline of America
    by Noah in Noahpinion on 2011-04-29 06:59:00
  2. Why don't Americans value social insurance?
    by Noah in Noahpinion on 2011-02-14 19:59:00
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