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The Retrenchment Hypothesis and the Extension of the Franchise in England and Wales

Listed author(s):
  • Aidt, T.S.
  • Daunton, M.
  • Dutta, J.

Does local democracy help or hinder the solution of collective action problems? We study this question in the context of public spending on health-related urban amenities in a panel of 75 municipal boroughs in England and Wales in 1868, 1871 and 1886. We .nd evidence of a U-shaped relationship between spending on urban amenities and the extension of the local voting franchise. We argue that this retrenchment e¤ect arose because middle class taxpayers were unwilling to pay the cost of poor sanitation and the urban elites, elected on a narrow franchise, were instrumental for sanitary improvements. Our model of taxpayer democracy suggests that the retrenchment e¤ect is related to forced enfranchisement of the middle class through nation-wide reforms.

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File URL: http://www.econ.cam.ac.uk/research/repec/cam/pdf/cwpe0818.pdf
File Function: Working Paper Version
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Paper provided by Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge in its series Cambridge Working Papers in Economics with number 0818.

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Length: 24
Date of creation: Apr 2008
Handle: RePEc:cam:camdae:0818
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.econ.cam.ac.uk/index.htm

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  1. Husted, Thomas A & Kenny, Lawrence W, 1997. "The Effect of the Expansion of the Voting Franchise on the Size of Government," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(1), pages 54-82, February.
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  8. Acemoglu, Daron & Robinson, James A, 1998. "Why did the West Extend the Franchise? Democracy, Inequality and Growth in Historical Perspective," CEPR Discussion Papers 1797, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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