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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. 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.
  2. Marianne Bertrand & Erzo F.P. Luttmer & Sendhil Mullainathan, 1998. "Network Effects and Welfare Cultures," NBER Working Papers 6832, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Alberto Alesina & Eliana La Ferrara, . "Participation in Heterogeneous Communities," Working Papers 151, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  4. Wacziarg, Romain & Spolaore, Enrico & Alesina, Alberto, 2000. "Economic Integration and Political Disintegration," Scholarly Articles 4553029, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  5. Bolton, Patrick & Roland, GĂ©rard, 1995. "The Break up of Nations: A Political Economy Analysis," CEPR Discussion Papers 1225, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. David M. Cutler & Edward L. Glaeser & Jacob L. Vigdor, 1997. "The Rise and Decline of the American Ghetto," NBER Working Papers 5881, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Edward L. Glaeser & Jose A. Scheinkman & Andrei Shleifer, 1995. "Economic Growth in a Cross-Section of Cities," NBER Working Papers 5013, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Caroline Minter Hoxby, 1994. "Does Competition Among Public Schools Benefit Students and Taxpayers?," NBER Working Papers 4979, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Baqir, Reza & Easterly, William & Alesina, Alberto, 1999. "Public Goods and Ethnic Divisions," Scholarly Articles 4551797, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  10. Maddala,G. S., 1986. "Limited-Dependent and Qualitative Variables in Econometrics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521338257, October.
  11. La Ferrara, Eliana & Alesina, Alberto, 2000. "Participation in Heterogeneous Communities," Scholarly Articles 4551796, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  12. Alberto Alesina & Enrico Spolaore, 1995. "On the Number and Size of Nations," NBER Working Papers 5050, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Erzo F.P. Luttmer, 1999. "Group Loyalty and the Taste for Redistribution," JCPR Working Papers 61, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. Charles M. Tiebout, 1956. "A Pure Theory of Local Expenditures," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 64, pages 416.
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