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Public Goods and Ethnic Divisions

Listed author(s):
  • Alberto Alesina
  • Reza Baqir
  • William Easterly

We present a model that links heterogeneity of preferences across ethnic groups in a city to the amount and type of public goods the city supplies. We test the implications of the model with three related data sets: U. S. cities, U. S. metropolitan areas, and U. S. urban counties. Results show that the shares of spending on productive public goods—education, roads, sewers and trash pickup—in U. S. cities (metro areas/urban counties) are inversely related to the city's (metro area's/county's) ethnic fragmentation, even after controlling for other socioeconomic and demographic determinants. We conclude that ethnic conflict is an important determinant of local public finances.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1162/003355399556269
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Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal The Quarterly Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 114 (1999)
Issue (Month): 4 ()
Pages: 1243-1284

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Handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:114:y:1999:i:4:p:1243-1284.
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  1. Alberto Alesina & Enrico Spolaore, 1997. "On the Number and Size of Nations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1027-1056.
  2. Alesina, Alberto & Baqir, Reza & Easterly, William, 2000. "Redistributive Public Employment," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(2), pages 219-241, September.
  3. William Easterly & Ross Levine, 1997. "Africa's Growth Tragedy: Policies and Ethnic Divisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1203-1250.
  4. Epple, Dennis & Romer, Thomas, 1991. "Mobility and Redistribution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(4), pages 828-858, August.
  5. Roland Bénabou, 1996. "Equity and Efficiency in Human Capital Investment: The Local Connection," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 63(2), pages 237-264.
  6. Perotti, Roberto, 1996. "Growth, Income Distribution, and Democracy: What the Data Say," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 1(2), pages 149-187, June.
  7. James M. Poterba, 1997. "Demographic structure and the political economy of public education," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(1), pages 48-66.
  8. Meltzer, Allan H & Richard, Scott F, 1981. "A Rational Theory of the Size of Government," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 914-927, October.
  9. Rubinfeld, Daniel L & Shapiro, Perry & Roberts, Judith, 1987. "Tiebout Bias and the Demand for Local Public Schooling," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 69(3), pages 426-437, August.
  10. Roland Benabou, 1993. "Workings of a City: Location, Education, and Production," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(3), pages 619-652.
  11. Paolo Mauro, 1995. "Corruption and Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(3), pages 681-712.
  12. David M. Cutler & Edward L. Glaeser, 1995. "Are Ghettos Good or Bad?," NBER Working Papers 5163, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. 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 642-664, August.
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