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The Cabals of a Few or the Confusion of a Multitude: The Institutional Trade-Off between Representation and Governance

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  • Leah Brooks
  • Justin Phillips
  • Maxim Sinitsyn

Abstract

Our model illustrates how political institutions trade off between the competing goals of representation and governance, where governance is the responsiveness of an institution to a single pivotal voter. We use exogenous variation from the 30-year history of the federal Community Development Block Grant program to identify this trade-off. Cities with more representative governments—those with larger city councils—use more grant funds to supplement city revenues rather than implementing tax cuts, thereby moving policy further away from the governance ideal. In sum, more representative government is not without cost. (JEL D72, H71, R50)

Suggested Citation

  • Leah Brooks & Justin Phillips & Maxim Sinitsyn, 2011. "The Cabals of a Few or the Confusion of a Multitude: The Institutional Trade-Off between Representation and Governance," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 1-24, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejpol:v:3:y:2011:i:1:p:1-24 Note: DOI: 10.1257/pol.3.1.1
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    10. Byron Lutz, 2010. "Taxation with Representation: Intergovernmental Grants in a Plebiscite Democracy," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(2), pages 316-332, May.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Bev Dahlby & Ergete Ferede, 2016. "The stimulative effects of intergovernmental grants and the marginal cost of public funds," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, pages 114-139.
    2. Toke S. Aidt & Julia Shvets, 2012. "Distributive Politics and Electoral Incentives: Evidence from Seven US State Legislatures," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, pages 1-29.
    3. Mark Kattenberg & Wouter Vermeulen, 2015. "The stimulative effect of an unconditional block grant on the decentralized provision of care," CPB Discussion Paper 308, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.
    4. Toke S. Aidt & Julia Shvets, 2012. "Distributive Politics and Electoral Incentives: Evidence from Seven US State Legislatures," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, pages 1-29.
    5. C. Bee & Shawn Moulton, 2015. "Political budget cycles in U.S. municipalities," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 16(4), pages 379-403, November.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • H71 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • R50 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Regional Government Analysis - - - General

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