IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Measuring the Compactness of Political Districting Plans

  • Roland G. Fryer Jr.
  • Richard Holden

We develop a measure of compactness based on the distance between voters within the same district relative to the minimum distance achievable, which we coin the relative proximity index. Any compactness measure that satisfies three desirable properties (anonymity of voters, efficient clustering, and invariance to scale, population density, and number of districts) ranks districting plans identically to our index. We then calculate the relative proximity index for the 106th Congress, which requires us to solve for each state’s maximal compactness—a problem that is nondeterministic polynomial-time hard (NP hard). The correlations between our index and the commonly used measures of dispersion and perimeter are −.37 and −.29, respectively. We conclude by estimating seat-vote curves under maximally compact districts for several large states. The fraction of additional seats a party obtains when its average vote increases is significantly greater under maximally compact districting plans relative to the existing plans.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: Access to the online full text or PDF requires a subscription.

File URL:
Download Restriction: Access to the online full text or PDF requires a subscription.

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal The Journal of Law and Economics.

Volume (Year): 54 (2011)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 493 - 535

in new window

Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:doi:10.1086/661511
Contact details of provider: Web page:

No references listed on IDEAS
You can help add them by filling out this form.

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:doi:10.1086/661511. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Journals Division)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.