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Testing political economy’s ‘as if’ proposition: is the median income voter really decisive?

  • Robert Inman
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    Recent empirical and normative analysis of local government fiscal performance has made good use of the Downsian median voter model as a behavioral specification for how local fiscal allocations are decided. The central assumption behind all these studies is that the median voter is the family with the median income. This paper statistically tests the validity of this assumption for a sample of 58 Long Island school districts. For at most 1/4 of the districts can we reject the assumption, and even for these districts, the predictive bias of the median-income-voter-as-decisive assumption never exceeds 20%. Copyright Springer 1978

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    Article provided by Springer in its journal Public Choice.

    Volume (Year): 33 (1978)
    Issue (Month): 4 (December)
    Pages: 45-65

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    Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:33:y:1978:i:4:p:45-65
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    1. Howard R. Bowen, 1943. "The Interpretation of Voting in the Allocation of Economic Resources," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(1), pages 27-48.
    2. Bergstrom, Theodore C & Goodman, Robert P, 1973. "Private Demands for Public Goods," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 63(3), pages 280-96, June.
    3. Brian J. L. Berry & Robert S. Bednarz, 1975. "A Hedonic Model of Prices and Assessments for Single-Family Homes: Does the Assessor Follow the Market or the Market Follow the Assessor?," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 51(1), pages 21-40.
    4. Lovell, Michael C, 1978. "Spending for Education: The Exercise of Public Choice," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 60(4), pages 487-95, November.
    5. Byron Brown & Daniel Saks, 1977. "Income Distribution and the Aggregation of Private Demands for Local Public Education," Working Papers 471, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    6. Stiglitz, J. E., 1974. "The demand for education in public and private school systems," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 349-385, November.
    7. Polinsky, A Mitchell, 1977. "The Demand for Housing: A Study in Specification and Grouping," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(2), pages 447-61, March.
    8. Barlow, Robin, 1970. "Efficiency Aspects of Local School Finance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 78(5), pages 1028-40, Sept.-Oct.
    9. Sato, Kazuo, 1972. "Additive Utility Functions with Double-Log Consumer Demand Functions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(1), pages 102-24, Jan.-Feb..
    10. Borcherding, Thomas E & Deacon, Robert T, 1972. "The Demand for the Services of Non-Federal Governments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(5), pages 891-901, December.
    11. Michael Lovell, 1975. "The collective allocation of commodities in a democratic society," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 24(1), pages 71-92, December.
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