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Structural Constraints on Partisan Bias under the Efficient Gerrymander


  • Gilligan, Thomas W
  • Matsusaka, John G


Partisan bias occurs when the translation of the popular vote into legislative seats differs between competing parties. This paper contains a theoretical and empirical analysis of the consequences of an efficient gerrymander for the partisan bias of an electoral system. Under partisan apportionment, bias is shown to depend on some structural features of the electoral environment; namely, the size of the voting population and the number of single-member districts within a political jurisdiction. A statistical analysis reveals the predicted relationships in data on Congressional elections across states in the 1950-84 period. This paper highlights the importance of some measurable features of the electoral environment for determining bias and provides an indirect test of partisan gerrymandering in congressional apportionment processes. Copyright 1999 by Kluwer Academic Publishers

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  • Gilligan, Thomas W & Matsusaka, John G, 1999. "Structural Constraints on Partisan Bias under the Efficient Gerrymander," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 100(1-2), pages 65-84, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:100:y:1999:i:1-2:p:65-84

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Carlsen, Fredrik, 1997. "Opinion Polls and Political Business Cycles: Theory and Evidence for the United States," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 92(3-4), pages 387-406, September.
    2. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock, 1997. "Instrumental Variables Regression with Weak Instruments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(3), pages 557-586, May.
    3. Rogoff, Kenneth, 1990. "Equilibrium Political Budget Cycles," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 21-36, March.
    4. William D. Nordhaus, 1975. "The Political Business Cycle," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 42(2), pages 169-190.
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    Cited by:

    1. Puppe, Clemens & Tasnádi, Attila, 2009. "Optimal redistricting under geographical constraints: Why "pack and crack" does not work," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 105(1), pages 93-96, October.
    2. Ebonya Washington, 2012. "Do Majority-Black Districts Limit Blacks' Representation? The Case of the 1990 Redistricting," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 55(2), pages 251-274.
    3. Justin Svec & James Hamilton, 2015. "Endogenous voting weights for elected representatives and redistricting," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 26(4), pages 434-441, December.
    4. Jan Schnellenbach & Lars Feld & Christoph Schaltegger, 2010. "The impact of referendums on the centralisation of public goods provision: a political economy approach," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 11(1), pages 3-26, February.
    5. Faruk Gul & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 2007. "Competitive Redistricting," Levine's Bibliography 321307000000000748, UCLA Department of Economics.
    6. Faruk Gul & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 2010. "Strategic Redistricting," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(4), pages 1616-1641, September.
    7. John Bradbury & W. Crain, 2005. "Legislative district configurations and fiscal policy in American States," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 125(3), pages 385-407, December.
    8. Thomas Gilligan & John Matsusaka, 2006. "Public choice principles of redistricting," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 129(3), pages 381-398, December.
    9. Stephen Coate & Brian Knight, 2005. "Socially Optimal Districting," NBER Working Papers 11462, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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