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Political Jurisdictions in Heterogeneous Communities

  • Alberto Alesina
  • Reza Baqir
  • Caroline Hoxby

We investigate the number and size of local political jurisdictions are determined, by focusing on the tradeoff between the benefits of economies of scale and the costs of a heterogeneous population. We consider heterogeneity in income, race, ethnicity, and religion, and we test the model using American school districts, school attendance areas, municipalities, and special districts. Using cross-sectional and panel analysis, we find very little evidence of tradeoffs between economies of scale and ethnic or religious heterogeneity. However, we find evidence of a tradeoff between economies of scale and income heterogeneity and particularly strong evidence of a tradeoff between economies of scale and racial heterogeneity. To clarify the direction of causality between heterogeneity and jurisdictions, we exploit shocks to racial heterogeneity generated by the two World Wars.

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Paper provided by Harvard - Institute of Economic Research in its series Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers with number 1949.

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Date of creation: 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fth:harver:1949
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  1. Charles M. Tiebout, 1956. "A Pure Theory of Local Expenditures," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 64, pages 416.
  2. Marianne Bertrand & Erzo Luttmer & Sendhil Mullainathan, 1998. "Network Effects and Welfare Cultures," Working Papers 784, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  3. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 1998. "Human Capital and Social Capital: The Rise of Secondary Schooling in America, 1910 to 1940," NBER Working Papers 6439, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Enrico Spolaore & Alberto Alesina & Romain Wacziarg, 2000. "Economic Integration and Political Disintegration," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1276-1296, December.
  5. Caroline Minter Hoxby, 1994. "Does Competition Among Public Schools Benefit Students and Taxpayers?," NBER Working Papers 4979, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. David M. Cutler & Edward L. Glaeser & Jacob L. Vigdor, 1999. "The Rise and Decline of the American Ghetto," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(3), pages 455-506, June.
  7. Alberto Alesina & Reza Baqir & William Easterly, 1999. "Public Goods And Ethnic Divisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(4), pages 1243-1284, November.
  8. Alberto Alesina & Eliana La Ferrara, 1999. "Participation in Heterogeneous Communities," NBER Working Papers 7155, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Bolton, Patrick & Roland, Gerard, 1997. "The Breakup of Nations: A Political Economy Analysis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1057-90, November.
  10. Glaeser, E.L. & Scheinkman, J.A., 1993. "Economic Growth in a Cross-Section of Cities," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1645, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  11. Cutler, David M & Glaeser, Edward L, 1997. "Are Ghettos Good or Bad?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(3), pages 827-72, August.
  12. Alberto Alesina & Enrico Spolaore, 1995. "On the Number and Size of Nations," NBER Working Papers 5050, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. La Ferrara, Eliana & Alesina, Alberto, 2000. "Participation in Heterogeneous Communities," Scholarly Articles 4551796, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  14. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521338257 is not listed on IDEAS
  15. James M. Poterba, 1996. "Demographic Structure and the Political Economy of Public Education," NBER Working Papers 5677, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Erzo F. P. Luttmer, 2001. "Group Loyalty and the Taste for Redistribution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(3), pages 500-528, June.
  17. Epple, Dennis & Platt, Glenn J., 1998. "Equilibrium and Local Redistribution in an Urban Economy when Households Differ in both Preferences and Incomes," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 23-51, January.
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