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The Curley Effect

  • Edward L. Glaeser
  • Andrei Shleifer

James Michael Curley, a four-time mayor of Boston, used wasteful redistribution to his poor Irish constituents and incendiary rhetoric to encourage richer citizens to emigrate from Boston, thereby shaping the electorate in his favor. Boston as a consequence stagnated, but Curley kept winning elections. We present a model of the Curley effect, in which inefficient redistributive policies are sought not by interest groups protecting their rents, but by incumbent politicians trying to shape the electorate through emigration of their opponents or reinforcement of class identities. The model sheds light on ethnic politics in the United States and abroad, as well as on class politics in many countries including Britain.

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Paper provided by Harvard - Institute of Economic Research in its series Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers with number 1956.

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Date of creation: 2002
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Handle: RePEc:fth:harver:1956
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  1. Alberto Alesina & Reza Baqir & William Easterly, 1999. "Public Goods and Ethnic Divisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(4), pages 1243-1284.
  2. Alberto Alesina & Dani Rodrik, 1991. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 3668, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 1991. "Is Inequality Harmful for Growth? Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 3599, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Edward L. Glaeser & Matthew E. Kahn & Jordan Rappaport, 2000. "Why Do The Poor Live In Cities?," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1891, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  5. Acemoglu, Daron & Robinson, James A, 2002. "Economic Backwardness in Political Perspective," CEPR Discussion Papers 3261, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. De Long, J Bradford & Shleifer, Andrei, 1993. "Princes and Merchants: European City Growth before the Industrial Revolution," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36(2), pages 671-702, October.
  7. Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1994. "Politicians and Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(4), pages 995-1025.
  8. Alesina, Alberto & Baqir, Reza & Easterly, William, 1999. "Public goods and ethnic divisions," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2108, The World Bank.
  9. Edward L. Glaeser & Joseph Gyourko, 2002. "The Impact of Zoning on Housing Affordability," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1948, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  10. Stephen L. Parente & Edward C. Prescott, 1997. "Monopoly rights: a barrier to riches," Staff Report 236, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  11. James A. Robinson & Daron Acemoglu, 2000. "Political Losers as a Barrier to Economic Development," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 126-130, May.
  12. Coate, Stephen & Morris, Stephen, 1995. "On the Form of Transfers in Special Interests," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(6), pages 1210-35, December.
  13. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics and Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753.
  14. James A. Robinson & Thierry Verdier, 2013. "The Political Economy of Clientelism," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 115(2), pages 260-291, 04.
  15. Easterly, William & Baqir, Reza & Alesina, Alberto, 2000. "Redistributive Public Employment," Scholarly Articles 4553013, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  16. Alberto Alesina & Dani Rodrik, 1994. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(2), pages 465-490.
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