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What motivates voters’ support for eminent domain reform: Ownership, vulnerability, or ideology?


  • Hoehn, John P.
  • Adanu, Kwami


The analysis evaluates factors that motivate voter support for eminent domain reform. Economic models emphasize property ownership as a motivation for eminent domain restrictions (Fleck & Hanssen, 2010; Lamoreaux, 2011). Other research and court opinions point to ideology and vulnerability to takings as motivations for eminent domain reform. The empirical analysis tests these hypotheses using data from state-level referenda that responded to the Supreme Court decision in Kelo v. New London. Property ownership, income, economic vulnerability and ideology have significant impacts on the odds of voting in favor of reform. Ethnic and educational factors do not have significant effects on reform outcomes.

Suggested Citation

  • Hoehn, John P. & Adanu, Kwami, 2014. "What motivates voters’ support for eminent domain reform: Ownership, vulnerability, or ideology?," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 90-99.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:irlaec:v:37:y:2014:i:c:p:90-99 DOI: 10.1016/j.irle.2013.07.006

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Carter, Steven, 2011. "Housing tenure choice and the dual income household," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 159-170, September.
    2. Lopez Edward J. & Jewell R. Todd & Campbell Noel D., 2009. "Pass a Law, Any Law, Fast! State Legislative Responses to the Kelo Backlash," Review of Law & Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 5(1), pages 101-135, April.
    3. Dietz, Robert D. & Haurin, Donald R., 2003. "The social and private micro-level consequences of homeownership," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(3), pages 401-450, November.
    4. Lamoreaux, Naomi R., 2011. "The Mystery of Property Rights: A U.S. Perspective," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 71(02), pages 275-306, June.
    5. Carrie B. Kerekes, 2011. "Government Takings: Determinants of Eminent Domain," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 13(1), pages 201-219.
    6. Deacon, Robert T & Shapiro, Perry, 1975. "Private Preference for Collective Goods Revealed Through Voting on Referenda," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 65(5), pages 943-955, December.
    7. Elaine B. Sharp & Donald Haider-Markel, 2008. "At the Invitation of the Court: Eminent Domain Reform in State Legislatures in the Wake of the Kelo Decision," Publius: The Journal of Federalism, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(3), pages 556-575, Summer.
    8. Fleck, Robert K. & Hanssen, F. Andrew, 2010. "Repeated adjustment of delegated powers and the history of eminent domain," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 99-112, June.
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    More about this item


    Eminent domain; Takings; Public use clause; Property rights; History; Voter behavior; Referenda; Fifth Amendment;

    JEL classification:

    • K11 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Property Law
    • H10 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - General
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • N40 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - General, International, or Comparative


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