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Assessing the Importance of Tiebout Sorting: Local Heterogeneity from 1850 to 1990

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  • Paul W. Rhode
  • Koleman S. Strumpf

Abstract

This paper argues that long-run trends in geographic segregation are inconsistent with models where residential choice depends solely on local public goods (the Tiebout hypothesis). We develop an extension of the Tiebout model that predicts as mobility costs fall, the heterogeneity across communities of individual public good preferences and of public good provision must (weakly) increase. Given the secular decline in mobility costs, these predictions can be evaluated using historical data. We find decreasing heterogeneity in policies and proxies for preferences across (i) a sample of U.S. municipalities (1870-1990); (ii) all Boston-area municipalities (1870-1990); and (iii) all U.S. counties (1850-1990).

Suggested Citation

  • Paul W. Rhode & Koleman S. Strumpf, 2003. "Assessing the Importance of Tiebout Sorting: Local Heterogeneity from 1850 to 1990," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(5), pages 1648-1677, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:93:y:2003:i:5:p:1648-1677
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/000282803322655482
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Alberto Alesina & Eliana La Ferrara, 2000. "Participation in Heterogeneous Communities," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 847-904.
    2. Alberto Alesina & Reza Baqir & Caroline Hoxby, 2004. "Political Jurisdictions in Heterogeneous Communities," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(2), pages 348-396, April.
    3. Benabou, Roland, 1996. "Heterogeneity, Stratification, and Growth: Macroeconomic Implications of Community Structure and School Finance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 584-609, June.
    4. Alberto Alesina & Reza Baqir & William Easterly, 1999. "Public Goods and Ethnic Divisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(4), pages 1243-1284.
    5. Brueckner, Jan K., 2000. "A Tiebout/tax-competition model," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(2), pages 285-306, August.
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