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Public choice principles of redistricting

  • Thomas Gilligan

    ()

  • John Matsusaka

    ()

This paper uses fundamental principles of public choice, mainly the median voter theorem, to develop a simple theory of redistricting. The focus is on how closely policy outcomes correspond to majority rule. The main results are: (1) Potential policy bias in favor of nonmajority groups is structurally linked to the number of legislative seats and the population, and the structure of most states puts them very close to the theoretically maximum bias. (2) Random districting, which might seem like the essence of neutrality, does not eliminate policy bias on average. (3) Traditional principles of compact, contiguous districts that respect existing political boundaries, stressed in the Supreme Court’s Shaw v. Reno decision, minimize the chance of nonmajoritarian outcomes. Our analysis also offers a gerrymandering explanation for the positive relation between seats and spending that is usually taken as support for the “Law of 1/n.” Copyright Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2006

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s11127-006-9062-8
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Article provided by Springer in its journal Public Choice.

Volume (Year): 129 (2006)
Issue (Month): 3 (December)
Pages: 381-398

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Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:129:y:2006:i:3:p:381-398
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=100332

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  1. 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.
  2. Dalenberg, Douglas R & Duffy-Deno, Kevin T, 1991. " At-Large versus Ward Elections: Implications for Public Infrastructure," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 70(3), pages 335-42, June.
  3. Sherstyuk, Katerina, 1993. "How to Gerrymander: A Formal Analysis," Working Papers 855, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  4. John Bradbury & W. Crain, 2005. "Legislative district configurations and fiscal policy in American States," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 125(3), pages 385-407, December.
  5. Stephen Coate & Brian Knight, 2007. "Socially Optimal Districting: A Theoretical and Empirical Exploration," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(4), pages 1409-1471, November.
  6. Reza Baqir, 2002. "Districting and Government Overspending," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(6), pages 1318-1354, December.
  7. Bradbury, John Charles & Crain, W. Mark, 2001. "Legislative organization and government spending: cross-country evidence," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(3), pages 309-325, December.
  8. Matsusaka, John G, 1995. "Fiscal Effects of the Voter Initiative: Evidence from the Last 30 Years," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(3), pages 587-623, June.
  9. Matsusaka, John G, 2000. "Fiscal Effects of the Voter Initiative in the First Half of the Twentieth Century," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 43(2), pages 619-50, October.
  10. Charles M. Tiebout, 1956. "A Pure Theory of Local Expenditures," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 64, pages 416.
  11. Weingast, Barry R & Shepsle, Kenneth A & Johnsen, Christopher, 1981. "The Political Economy of Benefits and Costs: A Neoclassical Approach to Distributive Politics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(4), pages 642-64, August.
  12. Gilligan, Thomas W & Matsusaka, John G, 1995. "Deviations from Constituent Interests: The Role of Legislative Structure and Political Parties in the States," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 33(3), pages 383-401, July.
  13. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521894753 is not listed on IDEAS
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