Who votes for public environmental goods in California?: Evidence from a spatial analysis of voting for environmental ballot measures
Voting referenda provide direct evidence of the demand for public goods. A number of previous studies have used referenda to analyze the support for public environmental goods. These studies have used aggregate data from large jurisdictional units (usually counties) and summary income measures such as the mean or median, and have usually found that higher income areas offer greater support for environmental propositions. We examine environmental referenda voting in California using census block group data, spatial dependence controls, and detailed income distribution data. We find that household income has a negative marginal effect on environmental referenda voting for most of the income range when using census block data. In addition, controls for spatial dependence significantly reduce the magnitude of most coefficients. This suggests that OLS estimates of referenda determinants are biased. We also show that county level data may be subject to severe aggregation bias and might not be appropriate for referenda studies.
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